Family of Upatoi triple murder victims shares emotional reaction at sentencing

After more than two years, a judge handed down the sentencing for the men convicted of the murders of three Upatoi family members.

Following the long-awaited sentencing, the family of the victims spoke out and shared their thoughts on the outcome.

"I waited two long years to talk to you!" said Shameika Averett, daughter, sister, and mother of the three Upatoi victims.

It was a room of uncontrollable emotions and tears as Averett shared her emotional impact statement.

As the daughter, sister and mother of three Upatoi victims, Averett says she waited to finally confront the convicted teenage killers.

"I hope you see this picture, can you? Can you? You destroyed everything! You've taken everything from us for nothing!" said Averett.

The now 18-year-old Rufus Burks was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for kidnapping and burglary, 20 years with 15 years to serve for burglary, and two 10-year sentences for auto theft charges.

After pleading guilty to three counts of malice murder, Judge Gil McBride sentenced 19-year-old Javarceay Tapley to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Twenty-one-year-old Raheam Gibson who offered testimony for lesser time was given the state's recommendation of 30 years in prison.

"I know it doesn't bring them back, but we are just happy we can close this chapter and try to heal," said another family member.

Following the sentencing, the family stood in solidarity and acknowledged that their lives are forever changed. They say they will continue to rely on their faith in God. One thing they say they will always wonder is the question, "why?"

"I said it from the very beginning. No one is going to get away. Whoever did this, they are going to pay. You can't explain evil. There is no way we can put a definition of what evil is, but if you look into the face of those three defendants, you'll see it," spoke Averett.

Defense attorney, Jennifer Curry, is motioning for a new trial for her client, Rufus Burks. A tentative date has been set for July 19, 2018.

Copyright 2018 WTVM. All rights reserved. | For more news, download the WTVM app here.