RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Wake County judge has sentenced Chad Copley to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury found Copley guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Kouren Thomas.
Copley, 40, was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in connection with the shooting death of Thomas on Aug. 7, 2016, on Singleleaf Lane.
Before the sentencing, Thomas’ mother addressed the court saying “Maybe my son can rest now, knowing his name is clear and people wouldn’t think he was a bad child. He was an excellent child, sweet child, loving child, protective child.”
The judge offered Copley a chance to make a statement but he declined.
Copley’s attorney’s say they will appeal the conviction.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before delivering the guilty verdict.
An attorney for the Thomas family said “We are very pleased with the verdict but no one wins in these situations.”
Before this week’s trial, Copley had previously told police he was defending his home and family when he shot Kouren-Rodney Thomas from inside his garage. Thomas, who was leaving a party in Copley’s neighborhood, died as a result of the shooting.
Copley said there were people in his yard yelling profanities and at least one of them showed a weapon. Prosecutors argued that Copley’s life was never in danger.
Some have compared the case to that of George Zimmerman, who was charged but not convicted of killing Trayvon Martin, 17, in 2012. Zimmerman called told dispatchers he was part of a neighborhood watch group, just as Copley told dispatchers.
In a 911 a call Copley said, “We got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing. I am locked and loaded and I am going outside to secure my neighborhood. You need to send PD as quickly as possible. I am going to secure my neighborhood. I am on the neighborhood watch. I am going to have my neighbors with me.”