Valdosta Daily Times

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November 22, 2011

Nashville man gets life in prison

SAVANNAH — MOULTRIE — One of three people accused of gunning down five people, including a toddler, in 2004 was sentenced Monday to a life prison term after entering guilty pleas in all of the killings.

Jerry Johnny Thompson pleaded guilty to five counts of felony murder, David Miller, district attorney of the Southern Judicial Circuit, announced in a news release faxed to The Observer at about 4 p.m. Upon accepting the pleas, Superior Court Judge Richard M. Cowart imposed the life sentence on one of the counts.

Thompson, of Nashville, Ga., was charged in a 25-count indictment that included 10 murder counts in December 2006.

Five of the counts could have carried the death penalty as the crimes were committed under statutory aggravating circumstances.

Thompson is expected to be a witness in a codefendant’s trial, and Cowart reserved sentencing him on four additional murder counts until after the disposition of the case against Alexander Woods III of Valdosta.

Cowart has issued a gag order prohibiting attorneys and law enforcement from discussing the case until the disposition of Wood’s legal case.

The third defendant in the case is Wilma Ann Yvonne Stover, also of Nashville.

The three were accused in the Nov. 8, 2004, murders of Betty Faye Watts, 50; Katrina Darlene Watts “Tina” Resendez, 29; Juan Carlos Resendez, 3; Liliana Alegria Aguilar, 30; and Jaime Cruz Resendez, 25.

The execution-style slayings occurred at the Resendez’s Adel Highway residence.

The couple’s nephew found them shot to death when he came home from school on that date.

Law enforcement authorities initially thought Juan Carlos was missing, but investigators later said it appeared that Jaime Resendez was trying to hide his son between the headboard and mattress under blankets.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said Jaime Resendez alone was believed to be active in marijuana trafficking at the time of his arrest.

He and his wife were arrested in 2003 in what at the time was described as the largest marijuana bust in Berrien County.

Thompson had argued that he was working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration at the time, trying to set up a sale between Texas smugglers and Resendez, but that he was not involved in the murders.

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