Jury recommends life in prison without parole for Southern Union shooter

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - Dressed in a yellow shirt and tie, a nervous looking Thomas May entered a Lee County courtroom Thursday ready to hear the jury's sentencing recommendation.

In total, the jury took just over three hours to deliberate their 10 to 2 recommendation of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The defense was pleased with the outcome.

"We spent a great deal of time and effort to get this information that we felt like is relevant on the issue as to sentencing so this jury would have that to aid them in reaching this decision," explains co-defense attorney, William Whatley.

The jury spent 12 days in court listening to testimony in the trial of May and on Wednesday found him guilty of capital murder and attempted murder.

In April 2011, May targeted his then estranged wife's family on the Opelika campus of Southern Union State Community College where he shot and killed his former mother-in-law Brenda Watson and injured three others.

"The jury worked really hard in this case, we are in the third week now. You can't ask for anything more than we asked this jury to do. They did a great job throughout the entire process including today," says Lee County District Attorney, Robbie Treese.

In an off-camera interview, May's mother Diane May said even though this trial has been heartbreaking, she is happy her son will have a life.

Ultimately Judge Jacob Walker will have the final decision in May's fate.

He could overturn the jury's recommendation and sentence him to death, but that decision will have to wait until May 22.

"We'll present lots of things to Judge Walker for consideration and keep moving forward," explains Treese.

"We're not done," says Whatley, "We still have more work to do."

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