Shubert Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Murder of Bonnie Ann Cooner
Monday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Malcom found 46-year old Brent Shubert guilty of malice murder, felony murder and concealing the death of another.
The week-long bench trial before Judge Malcom ended with closing arguments Friday morning.
During pre-sentencing testimony Monday, the court heard from Cooner’s mother Ann who testified she and her husband have not been the same since their daughter was murdered.
Mrs. Cooner told the court, “We trusted somebody (Shubert) with our daughter. We thought of him as family, like a son-in-law. We never dreamed this could happen.”
Through tears, Cooner recalled how her daughter Bonnie would come to her office and relay funny stories of her son.
“She would say, ‘You’ll never guess what my son did this time.’ Now I go to the cemetery, to a cold head stone and tell her, ‘You’ll never guess what your son did this time.’ It shouldn’t be that way. She should be living her life. She should be coming to my grave, not me going to hers.”
Mrs. Cooner said her grandson, who now lives with her, continues to receive counseling.
Also called to the stand was Franklin County Sheriff Chief Investigator Jimmy LeCroy.
LeCroy testified investigators had uncovered a plan by Shubert to escape from the Jackson County Detention Center where he was housed while awaiting trial.
LeCroy said the plan involved having people pose as Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies who would come for him and drive him out of jail and an offer of $5,000 to anyone who would kill or “neutralize” the primary witness against him, D.J. Canady.
LeCroy said Shubert was prepared to kill anyone at the Detention Center who tried to stop him from leaving with the fake officers.
In their pre-sentencing hearing, defense attorney Adam Levin called Shubert’s aunt, Rebecca Fitzpatrick to the stand.
Fitzpatrick testified Shubert grew up in a violent home and as a child saw his father often beat his mother in drunken rage.
She said Shubert’s mother would often leave him alone to go to local bars.
Levin then asked Judge Malcom to sentence Shubert to life with the possibility of parole in 30 years. He would be 76 years old when he was released.
“Mr. Shubert is not the worst of the worst,” said Levin.
Levin argued Shubert should have the opportunity to atone for his crime and had no previous criminal record.
Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Parks White told the judge Shubert has shown no remorse for the death of Bonnie Ann Cooner and while in jail over the past three years has actively sought to escape and to prevent Canady from testifying against him by offering money to two fellow inmates on two separate occasions.
“We ask the court to deliver justice to Bonnie’s family and to the people of Franklin County,” White told Judge Malcom.
After about a 30-minute deliberation, Judge Malcom handed down Shubert’s sentence.
In rendering his decison, Judge Malcom told Shubert, “I’ve heard from the victim’s family and I’ve heard about a young woman who loved you. I’ve heard about how talented you are and how you helped people, but I’ve also heard from witnesses who testified that when you’re drinking you become a different person. I’ve heard of a man who sought to kill or neutralize those who would testify against him.”
Judge Malcom then sentenced Shubert to life without the possibility of parole. He also set a date of July 6th to hear a motion to appeal for a new trial.
White said he was satisfied with the Judge’s decision.
“We were firmly convinced of Mr. Shubert’s guilt from the outset,” White said. “The court made the right decision. We’re very pleased that Judge Malcom found that the state’s evidence, which was overwhelming, proved Mr. Shubert’s guilt beyond any and all reasonable doubt, and his sentence will ensure that Mr. Shubert will never again pose a threat to the people of Franklin County or the people of the State of Georgia.”
Levin said afterwards he is not sure if he will continue to represent Shubert, but said he does plan to file an appeal on his behalf.
“It was a difficult trial. My heart goes out to the Cooner family. We believed in Brent. We continue to believe in Brent. We will pursue all of his legal options upon appeal,” Levin said.
Shubert has 30 days to file an appeal.