“I’m so sorry,” Justin Glenn said, sobbing as his mother held his head to his chest and rubbed his back before he was taken away in handcuffs to spend the next three decades in prison.
Those are words the mother of victim Carl Fair Jr., 25, wished she’d heard, too.
“Through this whole thing, I haven’t heard ‘I’m sorry’ … that would make me feel a little better to know he feels some remorse,” Sonya Fair said, wiping away tears after the court proceeding.
Glenn, 25, of Laurel was ordered in Jones County Circuit Court to serve 30 years in the full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections followed by five years of post-release supervision under the MDOC. Judge Dal Williamson announced the sentence on Monday morning, a week after Glenn pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the September 2017 shooting death of Fair in a fight over a woman.
“Only God can give true justice for what’s been done to our family,” Fair said of the sentence. “I know that God calls on us to forgive, but I haven’t made it to forgiveness in my heart.”
The judge read excerpts of letters that family and friends wrote in support of Glenn and letters that were written by Fair’s family.
Glenn graduated from high school, but he went to work while he was still a student “to help support his mother and other siblings” by “helping pay the bills and for food,” his sisters wrote. He is the “life, sparkle and joy of the family,” a niece wrote. A cousin described him as “loving and compassionate” and wrote that the family is “heartbroken over the life taken and the one now on trial.” A co-worker at Howard Industries wrote that Glenn is respectful and funny and “not a monster.”
Fair, who is a nurse in Hattiesburg, said her son used to come to the clinic she works at to donate plasma “just so he could take me to lunch,” she said. “We were very close.”
He also began working while he was in high school, as a janitor at Howard Industries, and he had plans to return to college.
Fair’s parents wrote that the loss of their son has caused “pain and anguish” and has “altered the lives of many people,” especially the 4-year-old daughter he called “Princess.” His hopes and dreams “have been stolen from him and his daughter simply because he loved the same person Justin Glenn loved … When he died, a part of us died.”
The victim’s father wrote that there will “never be justice for my son,” and while Glenn gets to accept a plea deal, “my son didn’t have a choice” and “his life will never be given back.”
His father concluded with this message to the judge: “Show Justin Glenn the leniency he showed my son — none.”
Glenn was initially charged with capital murder and was facing the death penalty, but he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last Monday. It was a “blind plea,” meaning prosecutor Dennis Bisnette and Glenn’s attorney Vanessa Jones of Hattiesburg agreed to leave the sentencing up to the judge. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison. The victim’s family also signed affidavits saying they approved of moving forward with the plea agreement.
Williamson talked about the case before pronouncing his sentence. Two factors figured strongly in his decision, he explained.
“There was ample opportunity to just walk away, but Mr. Glenn made the decision to go back and force entry, gun in hand, and then he made the decision to shoot someone,” the judge said.
Because of that decision, “a little girl will grow up with no father, and Lord knows, in this world, children need a father. We have too many children growing up with no father.”
Nakeeba Gallaspy, who had been in a long-term relationship with Glenn, wrote that they had broken up a couple months earlier and had remained in contact “as friends,” but he “had trouble accepting it.” Glenn was unaware she had a new boyfriend, she wrote. A short time before Glenn broke into the apartment that morning, he had broken her phone and damaged a car door, Gallaspy said.
Glenn admitted that he was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, and that “caused me to act in a manor I never would have if I had a sober mind.”
Williamson offered more sobering comments before sentencing.
“Everybody has disappointments,” he said. “Whatever happened to just dealing with heartache. Life goes on … This didn’t have to turn into murder.
“I remember days when there might be a fist-fight, and afterward, everyone was still alive. Nowadays, when someone gets angry, someone has to die. Why are we to that point in this world?”
A half-hour before the shooting, Laurel police responded to a report of a disturbance at the Westhill Apartment that Fair and Gallaspy were sharing. They stopped Glenn coming out of the apartment complex just after 4 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2017. His demeanor was described as “very calm” by officers and he told them there was a 9mm handgun under the seat of his car. It was deemed OK after the serial number was checked, unloaded and given back to Glenn, Bisnette said. The officers explained that his ex-girlfriend didn’t want him there and he said he understood.
Glenn was seen and heard on body-cam footage telling officers that he and Gallaspy had been together for six years and he had given her money to get the new apartment, but he believed there was another man inside. They made a couple of light-hearted comments about that and told him not to come back. An officer also noted that Glenn’s tag was expired and told him to take care of that before sending him on his way.
A half-hour later, officers returned to a very different scene after getting a call from Gallaspy, who said she was hiding in her closet as Glenn tried to break in.
Glenn was taken outside of the residence, where he began shouting, “I just killed someone over a girl” and that “I’ve thrown my life away.” He also cried, “Go ahead, kill me now” to police. There is also video of Glenn admitting to then-LPD Investigator Abraham McKenzie that he shot and killed the victim, Bisnette said.
Fair was pronounced dead at the scene with gunshots to the upper neck and upper back.
“We thank God for our 25 years with him,” Fair’s grandmother Brenda Hudson said, her eyes filled with tears.
“Hopefully, in 30 years, (Glenn) will find change and find God,” Sonya Fair said. “For me and my family, I hope we can find peace.”