LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A federal judge sentenced Gregory Bush to life in prison for the racially-motived killings of two Black shoppers at a suburban Kroger store.
U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom told families of the victims, “I hope the sentence is some solace to you.”
Bush was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years in the double murder at the Stonybrook Kroger in October 2019.
Bush shot and killed 69-year-old Maurice Stallard who was shopping for school supplies with his young grandson. Bush then went out the front door, shooting and killing 67-year-old Vicki Lee Jones.
Victim statements brought tears to many in the courtroom. Jones’ sister, Samuella Gathright, spoke directly to the killer.
“I don’t hate you,” she said, “because hate will not bring my sister back.”
Bush sat nearly motionless as six family members condemned his actions.
When the judge allowed him to speak, Bush expressed remorse saying he was “very sorry.”
But he also blamed mental illness.
“Voices drove me to madness,” Bush said.
“If I die in prison,” he said, “then that’s what I’ve got to do.”
Added Gathright: ”He felt bad but he walked out and shot my sister. So something’s wrong with that. And if that’s crazy, then yeah he does need serious help.”
During the shooting, after exchanging gunfire with a man in the parking lot, Bush left the scene saying to a witness: “Whites don’t kill whites.”
The racial motivations for the killings became even more apparent when it was discovered that Bush had, just minutes earlier, attempted to enter services at the nearby First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, whose congregation is predominantly Black. The locked doors there may have prevented even greater loss of life.
The federal sentence for hate-crime violations is Bush’s second life sentence. The first conviction was in state court in December.
Maurice Stallard’s daughter, Kellie Stallard Watson, called on state legislators to pass similar hate-crime legislation.
”There really needs to be an appropriate standard, an appropriate level of justice to deter that level of fear, that level of intimidation, that level of hate they try to communicate to others,” she said.
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