After the trial, the family members came forward, one by one, to recommend a punishment for convicted killer Rodney Jennings.
"25 years (+)," wrote one aunt. "Because he is a violent man and isn't following the law at all."
"He has emotionally traumatized my family," another family member wrote of Jennings before recommending the maximum sentence, 25 years.
"46 years," said a third, who identified himself as a father figure and dear friend of victim Raphael White. "[White] was 25. One son [of White] is 5. Another is 9. And a daughter is 7. Add them all up: 46."
Judge Tom Greenholtz sentenced Jennings on Thursday to 25 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.
In April, a jury in Hamilton County Criminal Court convicted Jennings of second-degree murder in the death of White on Jan. 28, 2014. During the four-day trial, Jennings, 29, took the stand, claiming he saw a firearm in White's back pocket shortly before the fatal shooting that night at 2755 Sixth Ave. Jennings had gone there to visit the mother of his children. But when White, his ex-girlfriend's cousin, reached for that gun, Jennings drew his own in self defense, he testified.
Though his sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for May 24, Jennings filed motions with Criminal Court asking to represent himself. His request was granted, but with some concern.
"I'd seen this through a jury trial," said Brandy Spurgin, one of two attorneys who represented him. "I wanted to watch what happened. And the judge wanted to make sure [Jennings] understood he knew what he was doing."
Spurgin said Jennings told Greenholtz that he didn't want to be railroaded by a state-appointed attorney, an extension of a system that he didn't trust.
Ultimately, Greenholtz delivered the 25-year sentence to be served at 100 percent, though Jennings will be entitled to various deal credits, records show. Jennings also will receive pretrial credit, records show, for sitting in jail since May 18, 2014.
Prosecutors also agreed to dismiss the second count of his indictment — possession of a firearm with a violent felony conviction, Spurgin said. And they dropped an assault charge Jennings had picked up for allegedly tossing a cup of urine in someone's face in the county jail, she said.
Until he's transferred to the Tennessee Department of Correction, Jennings will remain in the Hamilton County Jail.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at 423-757-6347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @zackpeterson918.