MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tremaine Wilbourn was sentenced by a jury Tuesday to life in prison without parole in the murder of Memphis Police Officer Sean Bolton in 2015.
Wilbourn was removed from the courtroom by the judge before the sentencing verdict was read because of his “profane outbursts.”
Prosecutors in their closing statements had told jurors to “look at the face of a coward.” At that point, Wilbourn called the prosecutor a racist and said he didn’t want to stay for the rest of the trial.
Wilbourn, 32, was convicted Sunday of killing Memphis Police Officer Sean Bolton on a Parkway Village street.
The jury convicted him on charges of first-degree murder, using a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and carjacking, a crime that occurred after Officer Bolton was killed.
He will be sentenced later for the state carjacking conviction and the weapons offenses by Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee.
The defense tried to show the jury mitigating factors which they said should be taken into consideration when deciding his fate. They painted Wilbourn as someone who grew up in less than ideal circumstances, but the state claimed he had all the chances in the world to turn his life around. He just failed to make the right ones, they said.
Wilbourn sat listening to both sides, but eventually decided not to sit in on the proceedings after making an outburst in court.
The defense tried to claim the prosecutor’s action was grounds for a mistrial, but Judge Coffee ultimately stated he would not reward Wilbourn for “acting a fool” while in court. The judge did tell the jury to disregard any outbursts made and not to allow Wilbourn subsequent – and voluntary- absence from court to impact their decision on sentencing.
Officer Bolton’s brother released the following statement in response to the sentencing hearing:
“We would like to thank the men and women of the jury, Judge Coffee, officers of the court and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office. We would also like to thank the men and women of law enforcement in Shelby County who work so diligently to serve and protect. We see the sacrifices you and your families make to keep our community safe. Nothing can bring Sean back to us, but we take comfort in the fact that his murderer can never cause harm to anyone else in our community.”
Jury returns, Part One
MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Both the state and defense presented closing arguments to the jury during the sentencing phase of the Tremaine Wilbourn murder trial on Tuesday.