By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
IUKA – More than two dozen family members of John R. Holt, who was found dead in December 2009 in his Burnsville home, were in Tishomingo County Circuit Court on Monday to hear sentences handed down to the two women who pleaded guilty last week to manslaughter for his death.
Judge Paul S. Funderburk sentenced Linda F. Holt, 53, to serve 20 years in prison, the maximum under state law for manslaughter.
Terry L. Sparks, 34, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 12 years suspended and eight years to serve.
Each was assessed a $1,000 fee, $100 fine to the victims compensation fund and $200 to the district attorney’s office.
Sparks’ sentence is scheduled to run consecutive to a 10-year sentence she is serving on a prior charge in Alcorn County, the judge said.
The sentences followed the sentencing recommendations of Assistant District Attorney Greg Myer.
However, before the sentencing two of John Holt’s family members asked to speak.
“You took away Dad’s last living sibling,” said Cendy Owen, daughter of John Holt’s brother Lloyd Holt. “You almost killed my daddy also.”
As each woman faced the judge, Owen read her prepared statement on behalf of the family, rebuking them for such a brutal attack on an 84-year-old man, beating him in the head and body repeatedly with a hammer. She asked each defendant “Why?”
Linda Holt had been married to John Holt’s son, who is deceased, and Owen said John Holt had always treated them well.
Owen’s sister, Bobbie Webber, tearfully asked some of the same questions as she confronted Sparks.
“Every day you sit in that cell I hope you remember what you did,” she said. “You’re not getting enough time.”
Sparks apologized to the family and said she knew there was no excuse but asked for their forgiveness and mercy.
“Forgiveness is up to the family, and you’ve been shown mercy in your sentence,” Funderburk said.
Knowing the details of the case and the brutality of the killing, “I agree that 20 years is not enough for what you did and would give you more if the law allowed it,” Funderburk said in pronouncing the sentence for Linda Holt. “If I could send you down there and throw away the key, I would do it without a second thought about it.”