The relatives of victim Kenny Dale Tuttle say that they're pleased with the sentence but that in the larger sense the justice system let them down.
Jurors sentenced a Greensboro man to death Friday in the killing of a UNCG student who was tied up and stabbed 36 times in his kitchen last fall.
Relatives of the victim, Kenny Dale Tuttle, said they're glad that Thomas was sentenced to death, and they praised the law enforcement officials who worked on the case.But in a larger sense, the Stokes County residents said they feel the justice system let them down.
They know that if the defendant, Walic Christopher Thomas, had served his full sentence in a previous stabbing attack, he wouldn't have been free last fall, when Tuttle was killed.
``I just wish they'd taken care of him before it got to this,' said Monnie Johnson, Tuttle's aunt. ``I'm glad it ended this way, but Kenny's still dead.'
Kenneth Tuttle Sr., the victim's father, was also pleased with the verdict, but he wasn't celebrating.
``It's the best we can do,' he said. ``It's just so unfair.'
Thomas will join five other people from Guilford County on death row; 155 people from throughout North Carolina are awaiting death sentences. Guilford Public Defender Wally Harrelson said the sentence will be appealed.
Jurors deliberated for a little more than two hours Thursday afternoon and Friday morning before returning their decision. On Wednesday, it took them a little more than two hours to find Thomas guilty of first-degree murder in the case.
Tuttle, 27, was killed on Sept. 11, 1995. Prosecutors argued that Thomas went to Tuttle's house on Holden Road about 1 a.m., knocked on the door, and asked Tuttle to call him a cab.
The senior Tuttle described his son as the kind of person who would open his door for a stranger who seemed to need help.
``He was just a good person,' he said in an interview. ``I'm sure the guy told him his car was broken down.'
When Thomas got inside, he tied Tuttle's hands behind his back and used a stuffed animal and aprons to gag him, said Assistant District Attorney Dick Panosh.
Twenty minutes later, when the cab showed up, Thomas sent the driver away. He then went to the kitchen where Tuttle was tied up, and stabbed him to death, Panosh said. Thomas, 30, then stole a TV, stereo, and Tuttle's clothes, wallet and car, Panosh said.
Tuttle, who worked full time at American Express, was studying at UNCG, pursuing a career in broadcasting.
During final arguments in the death penalty hearing Thursday, Panosh told jurors that Thomas is ``an arrogant, brutal killer.' He urged them to sentence Thomas to death.
``Remember that you are the voice and conscience of the community,' Panosh said. ``It is your responsibility to make sure that Walic Christopher Thomas never does this to another person again.'
Defense attorneys asked the jury to show mercy and sentence Thomas to life.
They said Thomas suffered as a child because he saw his mother beaten by his father, then by another man whom she later married.
``Members of the jury, death is final,' said Harrelson, who was one of two defense attorneys in the case. ``What can you live with for the remainder of your life?'
On Friday morning, Thomas showed no emotion as the verdict was read. Later, as deputies walked him out of the courtroom, he turned to Panosh and said, ``I'll be back.'