More details about the murder of Eric Hambrick emerged last week when a transcript of his killer's sentencing was released. Arkel Coleman pleaded guilty to manslaughter in November after he was indicted for first degree murder in Hambrick's death. Hambrick was a MEMA employee and a fixture in the Mississippi Opera and First Baptist Church choir. Coleman claimed that Hambrick asked him to trade sex for money. He said he hit him in response to the alleged proposition.
Hambrick attended Thursday night choir practice on May 28, 2015. He unfortunately stopped at the Waffle House on High Street at 10:30 PM. The 19 year-old Arkel Coleman thought the 52 year-old man would be easy prey and beat him with his fists. Mr. Hambrick fell to the ground and sustained more injuries when his head violently struck the pavement. His family removed him from life support a few days later. Arkel Coleman and his accomplice, Sherderwick Anderson, removed a ring that they fancied from a dying Eric Hembrick's finger. Police arrested the pair within a few days.
Coleman was represented by Ali Shamsid-dunce. The attorney once clerked for Judge Green. The transcript reveals what would have been Coleman's defense if the case had gone to trial.
Coleman told Judge Green that he dropped out of high school after eleventh grade and produced a son when he was eighteen years-old. He lived with his grandmother since his mother suffered from leukemia. He was 19 years-old when he called Hambrick.
Assistant District Attorney Sue Perry told the court that she was allowing him to plead guilty to manslaughter even though it was first degree murder. She said Coleman punched Hambrick in the head and caused his death. However, Coleman said Hambrick came on to him:
A. I had a couple words with the individual, and I punched him.Ms. Perry recommended that Coleman serve 15 years in prison but asked the court to suspend five years of the prison sentence. She also recommended that Coleman be placed under probation for five years upon his release from prison but Judge Green shortened it to three years. Judge Green also ordered him to enroll in a GED program and mandatory anger management. Judge Green also apparently bought the defendant's story hook, line, and sinker:
Q. And when you punched him, how many times did you punch him, once or more than once?
Q. Were you all in a fight?
A. No, ma'am, it wasn't a fight.
Q: Well, how did you end up punching him?
A: He made a proposition toward me.
Q: Say it again.
A: He made a proposition toward me.
Q: What was the proposition?
A: Sex for money.
I'm also going to require mandatory anger management. I can't make anybody pass the test, but I can certainly require that you enroll in that because you'll need to come back out with some skills to be able to get a job. Normally people that come out of jail without a high school degree, they end up going right back in.
And I don't know what happened exactly at the Waffle House, but it made you angry enough. It could have been something that would have made anybody angry, but it made you angry enough where you ended up taking someone's life, and there is no justification for that.
But if you could have controlled your anger on that day, you might would be in a totally different place today. Sometimes you just have to walk away. And you chose not to and someone died that day, and you have to be held responsible for that. Mr. Coleman, you're 19 years old?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. A lot of people go to jail and come back out and live productive lives. So, let·s hope that youColeman is currently serving his sentence.
can do that because not only did the victim die, but a part of you died that day too.
Kingfish note: So..... since Hambrick had cash if Coleman's story is to um, be believed, why didn't Coleman take the cash as well as the ring? If it's true, then why isn't a certain community screaming for a hate crime prosecution?
It is rather interesting that the transcript suddenly appeared in the court file on March 17. The sentencing took place in November. The media, including yours truly, missed it until this website checked the file and published the sentence two weeks ago.