Tupelo man convicted in death of girlfriend
By Cynthia M. Jeffries
A 19-year-old Tupelo man was given life in prison Friday after a Lee County jury found him guilty of murder in the shooting death of his 15-year-old girlfriend.
The five-man, seven-woman jury deliberated for about two and a half hours before returning its guilty verdict against Leo Green.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Gardner III handed down the life sentence immediately after the jury rendered its verdict.
Green, 19, of Tupelo was convicted of murdering Sherry Lester, 15, his girlfriend of at least three years. The shooting occurred Oct. 4, 1994, at Lester’s home in the Palmetto-Bissell community.
During the three-day trial, the prosecution, presented by Assistant District Attorneys Rob Coleman and Sam Reedy, portrayed Green as a jealous and possessive boyfriend who shot Lester in the left temple with a .25-caliber handgun, then bragged about the shooting to her 13-year-old sister before leaving the house with gun in hand as Lester lay bleeding on her bedroom floor.
During closing remarks Friday morning, Reedy told the jury: “Sherry Lester was a young, 15-year-old girl who had her whole life ahead of her. It’s hard to believe that the defendant is a cold-blooded killer, but he is.”
Defense attorney Billy W. Shelton had argued that the shooting was the result of an accident that occurred after Green went to Lester’s home to talk to her. Shelton said the then Tupelo High School 10th-grader got a gun out of a box in her closet and came out twirling it. Shelton argued that Green tried to get the gun away from Lester, and it discharged as he fell away from her.
Shelton argued that the two teen-agers were in love and that Green would not harm Lester.
Lester’s family members consoled each other during the trial.
“I think that justice was served,” said Lester’s father, David.
At the end of the trial, Green was handcuffed and taken to the Lee County Jail, where he will remain until he is sent to a state Department of Corrections facility.