Lalone, 21, Gets Life Prison Sentence For Sosa Murder

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - by Hollie Webb
Christian Sosa was 19 when he was killed
Christian Sosa was 19 when he was killed

A Criminal Court jury deliberated over six hours Thursday before finding 21-year-old Nathan Lalone guilty of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. 

The first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life prison sentence.  

Lalone was 19 at the time of the 2011 slaying of 19-year-old Christian Sosa. 

Mirta Sosa, mother of the victim, said, "I am satisfied with the verdict and I believe God gave justice. My son never deserved to die. He was a good person with a big heart and was loved by many. Although justice was served, my life will never be the same. I will always love my son."

Prosecutor Brian Finlay told the jury on Thursday morning that Lalone "brutally killed Christian Sosa.

..He brutally killed him, he nearly killed Meghan Bennett, and he's guilty of murder."

However, defense attorney Kevin Loper told the panel in the courtroom of Judge Rebecca Stern, 
"Don't put away an innocent man. He's not guilty."

Lalone was accused of conspiring with three other friends, Blakelen Adams, Tyler Conrad and Sabrina Lovett, to kill Sosa.

According to the state, Conrad called Sosa and agreed to meet him at the Apison Park tennis courts.

Instead, police said Lalone dressed in all black and hid out in the shrubs, waiting for Sosa to drive up. When Sosa and his girlfriend, Meghan Bennett, arrived in her car, police said Lalone came out and started shooting.

In Lalone's initial police interview, he claimed to have been with several friends and told the detectives to "subpoena them."

 Prosecutor Finlay pointed out, "You didn't hear from those witnesses because they don't exist."

 He also told the jury that the times from the videos submitted into evidence did not add up. Adams, Conrad and Lovett were shown on tape at Walmart at 10:35 p.m., only nine minutes after the first 911 call was made. Lalone does not walk into Walmart until 10:52 p.m., wearing dark-colored clothing.

The prosecutor asked, "Do you believe those three, if they were all the way in Apison, drove all the way to the Walmart on Gunbarrel in nine minutes?"

Prosecutor Kristen Spires also noted during the trial that Lalone had repeatedly told police he did not have a phone. However, footage from Walmart shows him walking into the store while talking on a cell phone.

Prosecutor Finlay said, "All of this is consistent with the plan Sabrina said they had. It doesn't have to be a good plan."

He implored the jury to find Lalone guilty, saying that jury instructions said nothing about "throwing away your common sense or ignoring it."

 However, attorney Loper disagreed. He said, "Mr. Lalone doesn't buy anything from Walmart. He doesn't need a receipt. I submit to you he removed himself from the situation, met back up at Walmart."

He points out that in Lalone's police interview, Lalone cried when he described what he said Conrad did.

 Attorney Loper said, "That's certainly not the insensitivity that you get from Mr. Adams. Not one amount of sympathy or remorse in that kid's statement. He tries to act dumb and say he can't remember anything. He calls the deceased 'retarded.'"

 He pointed out that in Adams' interview, he said his mother was a lawyer and he knew "how this works."

 Adams also said, "I don't want to answer anything that could be incriminating. I don't know how the questions are, some of them are tricky." Adams was originally charged with conspiracy to commit murder but charges were later dismissed.

 Attorney Loper said, "He also says one thing that just blows my mind. 'Christian Sosa was carrying a gun on the night this happened.' Is he setting up a self-defense theory?"

 Conrad received the same charge but passed away in 2013.

 Attorney Loper also told the jury to remember that the witnesses had said during their testimony that they could hear each other being questioned at the police station because the rooms were adjacent. Adams could hear Conrad being questioned and Lovett could hear Lalone.

 Attorney Loper said, "Ms. Lovett. She made a pact with Tyler and Blake. Most importantly, she knows what she's got to do to save herself. Look at her in that interview room. No remorse, no sympathy. She seems blank...She hears Blake in the next room. She hears she's getting 20 years."

 He said, "Her words are the same as Blakelen Adams'. Anything different to her means 20 years."

The attorney also reminded the jury that no blood spatter or gunshot residue was found anywhere on Lalone or in his car. Adams and Conrad were never tested.

 In her testimony, Ms. Bennett said she initially believed Tyler Conrad was the shooter. Attorney Loper said, "Look at Meghan Bennett's initial belief. Right when it happened. She knows the difference in the way the two parties look."

 

 

Nathan Lalone
Nathan Lalone

Big River Grille Employees’ Fight Over Apron Ends In Arrest

A fight over a stolen apron ended in an arrest for employees at Big River Grille, police said. After arriving on scene Sunday night, police said they spoke to two victims who had abrasions on their faces. The female victim told officers that she had confronted her co-worker, Tyree Scott, about stealing her server apron. She said Scott became enraged and attacked her, ... (click for more)

Man Arrested After Following Couple Home, Threatening Them

David Eugene Graham, 72, was arrested after following a Harrison couple to their home and threatening them Tuesday evening, police said. James and Amy Tillman told sheriff’s deputies that they were traveling to their house on Stoney River Drive when they came up behind a Mercedes driving slowly and periodically stopping. They said the car turned into their neighborhood and ... (click for more)

Judge Steelman Was Unfairly Criticized In Handling Of School Bus Driver Rape Case - And Response

We are blessed to have freedom of speech in our society, but I am always amazed at the number of folks who voice such strong antagonistic opinions about things without any apparent first-hand knowledge.   As any who wish to criticize the system should know, people get arrested and charged for criminal offenses every day.  The ultimate charge and penalty which results ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vote For Rhonda Thurman

After studying the Hamilton County School Board quite harshly during the last seven most-tumultuous months in its history, it is only proper that I share my belief that Rhonda is its Most Valuable Player. Four of the school board’s nine members are up for re-election, with Rhonda facing capable opponents in Jason Moses and Dr. Patti Skates in District 1, but let’s never forget that ... (click for more)

Williams Hired To Lead Restart Of Owls Boys' Basketball

Jay Williams has been hired as Ooltewah’s head boys’ basketball coach, a program rocked by a rape scandal last December that eventually led Hamilton County School officials to disband the varsity team and cancel more than half its schedule. Williams, who has strong ties to Ooltewah High School, previously coached at LaFayette School and Northwest Whitfield high schools in Northwest ... (click for more)

TSSAA Sets Future Division I, Division II Classifications

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has released the minutes from Wednesday’s meeting in Hermitage pertaining to football classification period for the 2017-18 and run through 2020-2021 1.  Roll Call 2.  Division I and Division II Classification The Board of Control voted the following for the classification period that ... (click for more)