DeKalb Co. 17-year-old gets life behind bars for capital murder

Published: Dec. 7, 2011 at 12:30 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2012 at 7:34 PM CST
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DEKALB COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A DeKalb County 17-year-old will spend the rest of his natural life behind bars after being found guilty Tuesday afternoon of capital murder in the 2010 robbery and shooting death of a New Harmony community resident.

Sheriff's investigators testified how Richard Sharp Shelton and a co-defendant planned to seek out Hispanics to rob that night. Instead, they chose 63-year-old Jerry Neal Burt, the man who employed Shelton's mother as a housekeeper.

Shelton was convicted on Tuesday of capital murder in the June 2010 murder of Burt.

Witnesses testified Shelton gained access to the home claiming he needed to use the phone.

That's when he and Billy Ray Justice pushed Burt to the ground and stole money and prescription drugs from him.

Investigator Wade Hill said of the killing that when Justice could not bring himself kill Burt, that's when Shelton said, "Then I'll do it."

Shelton admitted to shooting Burt in the face and in the back of the head on the way out.

The pair then went to an Albertville gas station to get gas and set the home on fire.

After a year and a half, Shelton said he wanted to plead guilty to spare the family grief before the holidays.

When asked if he was apologetic for what he had done, Shelton said yes.

"I wish one day they would forgive me," Shelton said of Burt's family.

Justice pleaded guilty to murder and arson charges last week and received two life sentences.

Because Shelton was a juvenile at the time of the crime, state law only allowed for life without parole in death penalty cases.

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