Man who murdered Vanderbilt professor will spend life in prison

Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 11:45pm

One man convicted in the 2008 deaths of a Vanderbilt professor and his sister was sentenced Thursday, the day after a third man was convicted in the murder and robbery.

Lavonta Churchwell, 21, was sentenced Thursday to two life sentences and two 20-year sentences both to run concurrently for his role in the deaths of Pierre Colas, 32, and his sister Marie Colas, 27.

On Wednesday night, a jury convicted Nathaniel Carson, 31, on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of especially aggravated robbery for his role in the murder and robbery at the McFerrin Street home in August 2008.

Carson’s felony murder convictions carry an automatic life sentence. A hearing set for Oct. 6 will determine Carson’s sentence for the other convictions and whether the life sentences will run consecutively or concurrently.

Churchwell won't be eligible for parole before serving at least 51 years. He was tried in July and also convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of especially aggravated robbery.

In May, a jury found George Cody, 31, guilty on two counts of felony murder, two counts of identity theft and two counts of criminally negligent homicide in the murders.

In July, Cody received a life sentence plus 20 years.

Gennyfer Hutcheson, 37, and Thomas Reed, 22, are also charged in relation to the murders, and are awaiting their trials.

13 Comments on this post:

By: budlight on 8/20/10 at 5:59

They need double life sentences. No parole would have been better; he took 2 innocent lives, for crying out loud! NO PAROLE!

By: yogiman on 8/20/10 at 6:02

If proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, they should be put to death. Why feed, house and medically nourish them the rest of their lives. They do not deserve to live after they have put someone to death.

By: BEOWULF on 8/20/10 at 6:15

BEOWULF: BUDLIGHT, Do you belong to the "Do-Gooder" Society? Yogiman has his head on straight! I believe our legal system is full of judges and prosecutors with BROWN EYES. What ever happened JUSTICE...LEFT, LIBERAL, BS!!

By: budlight on 8/20/10 at 9:16

Well, IF life, then life WITHOUT PAROLE. It does cost more to be on death row with appeals and all.

BUT I agree, that if you commit a cold blooded murder as they did, death penalty, carried out in less than 365 days is the answer.

Do-Gooder Society: Yes, when it comes to treating people and animals well. NO when it comes to criminals.

By: Cookie47 on 8/20/10 at 9:34

He's been convicted of killing two people. Why is he being allowed to live? I agree with Yogiman. This guy doesn't deserve anything better than to dangle at the end of a rope.


By: Magnum on 8/20/10 at 11:37

The fact that it costs more to be on death row is an issue with the system. While I think it is absurd and that this should be corrected, it doesn't change anything. Who cares if death row is more expensive? I'd rather criminals like this have to live with knowing their time is coming at the hands of others vs. just sitting around waiting to get old and die.

By: Cookie47 on 8/20/10 at 12:11

The time between conviction and execution is far too long. 25 to 30 years is ridiculous. The appeal process should be shortened thus reducing costs. Sounds cold but it's still no where near as cold as what this scum did to these two people.

By: Magnum on 8/20/10 at 12:49

There's your problem.

By: Writeman on 8/20/10 at 2:23

I have to agree with yogiman as well. Again, why keep them alive for years on end when they so brutally ended a life...or lives. Aren't we at the point in society where we really need to demonstrate to would be killers, etc. that we "mean business" and that a guilty verdict for murder means a speedy death for the guilty? Maybe then such people would think twice before they pull the trigger. Do these people really deserve to be fed and maintained for the rest of their lives? A horrible crime deserves a horribly final solution for those found guilty. Period.

By: Magnum on 8/20/10 at 3:34

I don't suspect a speedy death for the guilty would make them "think twice" before doing anything. I don't believe they process things the same as you/we do. No one wants to go to prison, but crimes are still committed. If someone commits a crime, they know there is risk. For instance, a gas station clerk may be armed, a homeowner may be armed, etc. However, the fear of immediate death does not deter these criminals...they still rob and kill. Therefore, I can't imagine that the "death chamber" in a year or two would change a criminal's behavior anymore than the "death chamber" in 25-30 years does. The simple fact is that it probably would have little to no bearing on serious crime rates. Having said that, I do believe we should speed up the process...even though we never will. Whether you agree with it or not, the only change coming for death row is the lack of a death row.

By: yogiman on 8/20/10 at 4:52

You're right, Magnum, it wouldn't matter to them, but it could save us a bunch of money. We could use that to help pay off more of Obama's and his wife's vacations and weekend doodads. I know it wouldn't be enough but it could help.

I also said; "beyond any reasonable doubt". It is known people have been executed for crimes they didn't commit because the prosecuting attorneys didn't want to loose a case. They too often deny defense witnesses to take the stand.

With the new methods of affirmation, many have been found not guilty of the crime they were convicted of.

Another question; when that evidence comes in, why aren't they released immediately instead of taking several days or weeks or sometime even months?

By: smoovgirl on 11/8/10 at 11:25

First off I want to say that most of you need to shut your mouths because you wasnt there and you dont know what went on just like I dont so stop the judging. Churchwell is my first cousin and I stand by him 100% because if he said he didnt do it then I believe him because I know him on a personal level unlike any of you and I dont think he had a fair trial and I believe there is more to this story than is being told. So before you open your mouth know what your talkin about plez!

By: smoovgirl on 11/8/10 at 11:32

And another thing....1) You all keep sayin him but u fail to remember there is more than 1 person involved in this crime so once again get it right. 2) Obama has nothing to do with situation and the President is just like any other human on this Earth who needs a break every now and then probally more so than we do considerin he has to fight day to day with idiots (republicans) who insist on givin him a hard time!