BUFFALO, N.Y. — Victim impact statements are expected to play a majority role at the sentencing of the white gunman who murdered 10 Black people and injured three others at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue according to those familiar with the case.
Attorney Terry Connors and a spokesperson for the Erie County District Attorney's Office tell 2 On Your Side, anywhere between 17 and 19 individuals could speak at the Wednesday hearing for 19-year-old Payton Gendron.
Gendron pled guilty to murder and hate-related terrorism charges related to the massacre at the East Buffalo grocery store back in November.
Those offering statements will include family members who lost loved ones in the May 14 shooting, survivors, as well as others who have been left traumatized according to Connors, who represents seven families that lost loved ones in the tragic shooting, Zaire Goodman who survived being shot, and two people that were near the store on May 14.
In an emailed statement Connors added:
“The emotions of the families that we speak for run the entire gamut. There are those who are anxious to see the maximum penalty imposed on the shooter but there are also family members who regard the shooter as irrelevant and pay him no deference as they strive to achieve something positive from this horrific experience.”
That irrelevance is felt strongly by Mark Talley, the son of Geraldine Talley, who told 2 On Your Side Tuesday that he will not be attending the sentencing.
"It would be a privilege for him to hear me speak so I refuse to give him that honor. He's beneath the lowest of the low so therefore, I don't need to be in his same presence," he said.
Talley described how he has "no emotions, no feelings" about the sentencing and denounced reports that Gendron may apologize to those in attendance Wednesday.
"I could care less about the constant media attention and air time given to him I could care less about the apology," Talley said, adding that his focus is on fighting the causes of racism calling the gunman a "symptom" of a much larger problem.
The charge of hate-motivated domestic terrorism carries a life sentence without parole although as 2 On Your Side Legal Analyst, Frank LoTempio explained that won't be the only one.
"He's going to get very high sentences obviously with the murder and the hate crimes, he's looking at 25 years to life on each count," LoTempio said.
When Talley was asked if he was happy that Gendron will spend life in prison back in November he replied: “What would make me happy is if America acknowledged its history of racism.”
LoTempio added that while in some cases a judge may limit the number of victim statements given the high profile nature of the case and its importance in the community, he said it's likely the sentencing will go on for a while.
"I think more people are going to be able to speak than normally and it's going to be a long very very difficult sentencing," he said.