ATLANTA -- Before he could utter one word, the tears came first.
Marquez Tolbert recalled the pain he suffered after boiling hot water was poured on him. The 21-year-old describes having his bandages changed every day.
“The pain was agonizing and excruciating so much that I could not think straight,” he said. “Every morning I would scream in agonizing pain because of what Martin did.”
Martin Blackwell is facing nearly a dozen charges for pouring the water on Tolbert and his boyfriend Anthony Gooden as they slept. Blackwell was dating Gooden's mother at the time.
The prosecution said it was all because Blackwell hated their sexual orientation.
“I woke up to boiling hot water in my sleep,” he said.
Anthony Gooden was in a coma for two weeks and endured two surgeries. He's had major damage to his left and dominant hand, leaving him unable to work.
“I have burns all over my body, my face, my back but I'm still healing,” Gooden said. “My healing process is two years.”
The victims pleaded for a harsh sentence.
The district attorney’s office agreed to lower the counts from 10 to two if Blackwell agreed to a non-negotiable guilty plea. That would mean Judge Newkirk could determine his sentence. But if he didn't like the sentencing and decided not to take the deal, he would go to trial.
The prosecution described what investigators found when they arrived at the scene.
Blackwell's attorney did object to any of the prosecutions arguments
In addition to the physical pain the victims say they relive the hateful act every time they close their eyes.
“The pain was so severe that I could not sleep at all,” one victim said. “And when I did sleep all I had was nightmares.”
After the victims brought the courtroom to tears, Blackwell decided to address them, apologizing.
Judge Newkirk ultimately sentenced Blackwell to 40 years with 30 served. Blackwell then withdrew his plea and chose to have a jury trial.