DECATUR, Ga. -- In a pretrial hearing Monday, Aeman Lovel Presley, 34, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder. He is accused of killing four people in 2014.
Monday he pleaded guilty to two felony murder counts in the deaths of Calvin Gholston and Karen Pearce in exchange for no death penalty. He was sentenced to two life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole.
Before he was sentenced, the judge heard victim impact statements from Pearce family friend John Bulluck and Pearce's parents. Her parents were too elderly and frail to travel to Atlanta but a court staff member read a letter from them, saying their lives were forever changed by the loss of their daughter, a popular Cobb County hair stylist who was shot to death as she left a Decatur restaurant in December 2014.
Previously, both Fulton and DeKalb county district attorneys announced their intentions to seek the death penalty against Presley. But, DeKalb County D.A. Robert James said in most of his cases, if the defendant is willing to admit guilt and take responsibility for their actions, he will agree to life in prison.
Presley did so in the courtroom Monday, apologizing to the families of his victims and the citizens of Fulton and DeKalb Counties.
"I'm a brother with serious issues, and I've done things I'm not proud of. I apologize and take responsibility," he said before the judge.
Despite that, James said Presley's "monstrous" actions had severe consequences on the lives of the victim's families and the lengthy sentence fits.
“Although he accepted responsibility for his actions, when a person commits crimes this terrible, he deserves to go to prison for the rest of his life,” James said.
In all, Presley is charged with killing four people in less than four months:
- 53-year-old Calvin Gholston at a DeKalb County strip mall on September 27.
- 42-year-old Dorian Jenkins during Thanksgiving week as he slept in Downtown Atlanta.
- 68-year-old Tommy Mims during Thanksgiving week as he slept in Downtown Atlanta.
- 44-year-old Karen Pearce as she left a Decatur restaurant.
Police said there could be more victims.
Jenkins and Mims were both homeless and Fulton County police were able to link their crimes because the same gun was used to kill both. Police reportedly found that gun on Presley when he was arrested.
Gholston was not homeless but he was known to wander when he went off his medication, according to his brother Cedric Gholston. However in court, the DeKalb D.A. referred to Gholston as homeless.
Pearce was a Cobb County hair stylist, and police say Presley confessed to killing her. 11Alive's Valerie Hoff was inside the courtroom and during the sentencing, a friend of Pearce's told the courtroom how her death has had a lasting impact.
"Karen loved life and everything it had to offer," he said. "The world is a smaller place without Karen in it."
Presley still faces two murder charges for allegedly killing two men in Fulton County. In the meantime, he will be turned over to the jurisdiction of the Georgia Department of Corrections to serve out his sentence.