During the two and a half hours the jury deliberated Friday, Renee Tellis wanted to talk about anything other than the trial. Her brother, Edward Glenn Jr., was killed Jan. 10, 2013, and the final arguments had just been made against Stephen Lester, who was accused of his murder.
When the jury came back and convicted Lester of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, Tellis ran out of the courtroom. The judge had told the family no outbursts were allowed when the verdict was read.
"My whole body started shaking and I started sweating, sitting there," she said. "And when I heard 'guilty,' I ran out of the courtroom. I just couldn't hold it in."
Lester, 27, was given a life sentence for the first-degree murder charge with an opportunity for parole after 51 years. The sentence for the especially aggravated robbery charge will be given at a hearing scheduled for March 29, 2016.
The trial began Tuesday, and a key factor in state's case was the testimony of Carmisha Lay, who said she was in the room when Glenn was killed. Lay told the jury Thursday that Glenn came over for sex, and Lay told Lester and another man, Eric McReynolds, that it would be easy to rob him. Glenn was a drug dealer and had lots of money on him, she said. Lay and Lester were both gang members of the Athens Park Bloods.
When the two men barged into the room between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. that day, McReynolds pistol-whipped Glenn in the head and face, she said. After Glenn cooperated and told the two men he had money in his pants on the floor, Lester ordered McReynolds to shoot Glenn, Lay testified.
Lay entered a plea agreement earlier this week and received a 15-year prison sentence after she promised to testify against Lester.
Dan Ripper, Lester's attorney, called no witnesses and instead tried to poke holes in Lay's testimony, saying she told multiple stories to police that night. He also pointed out in opening arguments that McReynolds has not been charged in Glenn's killing. A Chattanooga police officer said during testimony his case is still active.
Ripper said he will appeal the jury's verdict on behalf of his client at the appropriate time.
"I had certainly hoped for a different outcome, based on the proof that was presented and based on the work we did trying to show the holes in the state's case and the problems with the state's witness," Ripper said. "Very disappointed in the result."
Lance Pope, executive assistant district attorney, said the state was pleased with the verdict.
"We appreciate the hard work of the jury and the Chattanooga Police Department for building a strong case," Pope said.
Tellis sat with other family members Friday afternoon to hear the verdict. She'll always think of her brother as a teddy bear. He was loving and always willing to help others, she said.
"I'm just happy that we finally got justice for his children," she said. Glenn had five kids. "My brother had a 17-day-old daughter. She's the one that won't have any memories of him. She don't know him. We show her pictures, but she'll never get what the other kids will remember."
Staff writer Zack Peterson contributed to this story.
Contact staff writer Evan Hoopfer at email@example.com, @EvanHoopfer on Twitter or 423-757-6731.