Bainbridge man receives life sentence for murder

Published 8:55 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Bainbridge man received a life sentence Tuesday morning after being found guilty of a 2014 Decatur County murder.

William Leroy Wimberly, 50, received his sentence from Superior Court Chief Judge A. Wallace Cato for the three charges he was found guilty of last month, including one count felony murder, one count aggravated assault and one count possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Wimberly received an additional five years for the firearm charge.

In July 2014, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies found Christopher Strickland, 31, lying outside a trailer at Sandy Acres Trailer Park on Whigham Dairy Road with a gunshot wound in the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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According to an incident report from the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, deputies found two other males at the scene. Strickland’s brother, Joshua, 25, was found with a gun in his hand, and Wimberly was suffering from a gunshot wound and breathing shallowly.

Deputies interviewed witnesses and determined a fight had broken out between the three residents. According to those accounts, Wimberly had left the fight, returned with a pistol and shot Strickland. Joshua retaliated and shot Wimberly with the same weapon.

Family members of both Strickland and Wimberly were present at the hearing Tuesday, and Strickland’s father Larry gave an emotional victim impact statement.

“I really just don’t understand why. Chris was a good kid. He had problems like any other kid, but he had a good heart. You know, I’ll never get to spend another Christmas with him, and he won’t get to see his son grow up and play football. That’s just not fair,” Larry Strickland said. “I pray God have mercy on [Wimberly’s] soul. I pray he turn his life over to God. That’s what I did. That’s the only thing that got me through this. I don’t hate him, but he deserves to be punished for what he done.”

Chris Strickland left behind two children, Kendall and MacKenzie, who are 10 and 8. Larry Strickland said that he has taken over as a father figure, especially for Kendall.

“He really has no male figure in his life now,” Larry Strickland said. “There’s a lot of times when songs come on, and Kendall just breaks down and cries.”

Wimberly’s attorney, Trey McClendon, argued against a life without parole sentence, saying that incident was not “some cold-blooded murder,” adding that there had been a fight and struggle.

Judge Cato approved McClendon’s request to allow Wimberly to stay in the Decatur County Jail until a motion for a retrial is filed.

After the hearing, Kendall Strickland said that he missed his father and the time they spent together, playing football and camping.

“It’s been very tough,” Larry Strickland said. “I’m just glad we got to go to that last Falcon’s game together.”

“You shouldn’t have to bury your children,” said South Georgia District Attorney Joe Mulholland. “Unfortunately, now Mr. Larry will have to take on a father-figure role. His testimony was incredibly emotional. It’s scary. People just need to keep their wits about them. Unfortunately there are no winners in this case. The father is now without a son, and (Wimberly) is going to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Wimberly’s wife Tammy said that her husband did not commit the crime on purpose and that the truth will come out eventually.

“This is a very tragic situation, but there are two sides to every story,” Tammy Wimberly said. “I have faith. It’s going to be OK.”