King gets 25 years in Craig Motel death

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 11, 2003

The wheels of justice have turned – at least for one murder case.

Lee Arthur King, 45, pleaded guilty to the murder of Patricia Johnson, 40, before Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Marvin Wiggins Wednesday. King received a 25-year sentence in the state penitentiary.

Family members found Johnson behind the Craig Motel Feb. 9. King was living with Johnson at the motel, according to Selma Police Chief Robert Green.

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The Alabama Department of Forensics Science ruled the death was strangulation.

“I wish he could have gotten more time,” said Lucy Freeman, Johnson’s mother. “I wish he could have gotten life for taking her life like that. But he’s going to get his punishment. The Lord will take care of him.”

Freeman added that she was glad the case was over. “I’ve been hurting all these months,” she said. “I feel better that it’s over. I’ll just try to go on, but I know it’s going to be hard.”

Yvonne Freeman, Johnson’s sister, said she was both satisfied and unsatisfied with King’s sentence. “He deserved more time,” she said. “The system is geared more for the criminal than for the families.”

Glenda Blocton, another sister, agreed. “Patricia’s missed very much. I wish he would have gotten more time.”

Fourth Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick said his office offered King the 25-year plea agreement. “We thought it was a reasonable offer,” Fitzpatrick said. “He confessed and he pleaded guilty. That’s the way it should be.”

Kyra Sparks, King’s attorney, said she declined a jury trial because her client confessed to the murder, and the confession would have been presented to a jury. “I’m not happy with pleading somebody to 25 years, but there weren’t many options,” Sparks said.

Sparks added that she didn’t believe a jury trial would have yielded less jail time.

King could have received 10 to 99 years or life in prison.

Sparks noted that King would be eligible for parole in the future.