A.J. Cody, convicted of second degree murder.
LONDON, Ark. (KTHV) - At the close of day three in a Pope County courtroom, a man charged in the shooting death of another man was found guilty.
Andrew James "A.J." Cody, 26, of Casa was found guilty in the May 2012 shooting death of Lee Britton, 65, of London. Cody was originally charged with first degree murder, but the jury opted to convict him of second degree murder. He has been sentenced to 20 years.
Police said Cody wrapped his shoes and put on long sleeves before murdering Britton. Cody was arrested walking the streets of London about 45 minutes after the shooting.
According to police, the two got into an altercation over a claim Britton had molested a relative. Pope County Sheriff Aaron Duvall said a criminal background check on Britton showed no sex abuse convictions.
Duvall said initially Cody denied involvement, but eventually changed his story, admitting to the murder; then later in July, he pleaded not guilty to the first degree murder charge.
"It's going to be the children that are going to suffer. We did not want further victims as a result of this case, so we thought maybe the jury would relate to that same way to allow A.J. to go back or at least go back to his kids," said Jack Patterson, Cody's attorney.
Cody's family left the courthouse visibly shaken by the verdict, and though they believed the sentence to be harsh, Prosecutor David Gibbons said the jury did their job.
"You can tell they had given a lot of consideration to it, and as you both have said, it was an emotional case, and the jurors are people, but they did do their job. They were true to their oath, and they returned a true verdict," said Gibbons.
Cody's attorneys believe a medical exam confirmed Britton did in fact molest the child in question. During his sentencing, Cody was brought to tears on the stand when asked about his children, and what the future holds for them. Cody is the primary guardian of his daughter and son.