Jeffers, 34, of Southside, W.Va., was convicted on one count of murder and one count of theft of a motor vehicle in connection to the death of Larry R. Cox at the Island View Motel in Gallipolis on July 19, 2007.
At the time of his death, Cox had been living in Kissimmee, Fla., and was in Gallipolis doing construction work at the Kyger Creek Power Plant. However, Cox had been born and raised in the Ironton/Ashland, Ky., area and had lived in this vicinity for much of his life.
A number of his family members were present for Jeffers' trial and sentencing. They remembered Cox as a hard-working man that never knew a stranger. He liked to fish and hunt and attend Sunday dinners with his family. He was a son, a brother, a father and a grandfather. He was mere months from retirement when he was killed and had bought a piece of land to live out what he and his wife called their “golden years.”
“My husband was a good man, a tough man,” said Cox's wife, Sharon. “He trusted people, he had a strong work ethic; a handshake was as good as your word. If you knew my husband, for something like this to happen to him is just unbelievable. I feel like I'm living a nightmare.”
“I have five brothers and two sisters,” said Cox's oldest sister, Phyllis Woods, “and none to give away to murder. Unfortunately, John Jeffers decided to take one of my brothers. He has no remorse now, but one day he'll see my brother's face eternally; he'll have remorse then. I only thank God I'm a Christian.”
Sharon Cox was given the opportunity to speak in court before Jeffers was sentenced.
“What you did robbed us of our future; what you did brought pain to our family,” she said. “I hope every night when you go to sleep and every morning when you wake up, you see Larry's face. You rewarded his act of kindness towards you by taking his life and taking him away from his family.”
One of Cox's brothers, John, was also given an opportunity to speak in court.
“What you did wasn't right,” he said. “If you had fought my brother like a man, he'd probably be the one standing trial here today. I hope you suffer in prison because you aren't getting near what you deserve. Maybe the good Lord will give it to you.”
Gallia County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Adkins then asked the court to impose the maximum sentence for each charge.
Judge D. Deans Evans noted Jeffers' criminal history and lack of remorse before sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of parole until a minimum of 15 years has been served for murder. He also sentenced him to the maximum sentence of 18 months in prison for theft of a motor vehicle. Both sentences are to be served consecutively.
“We intend to file an appeal with the Fourth District Court of Appeals on some procedural issues that we did not feel were addressed,” said Jeffers' attorney, James Henry of Gallipolis, following the hearing.
“The state is pleased with the jury's verdict, we think that it was the right verdict based on the evidence presented. Mr. Cox was brutally murdered, though he had extended a friendly hand to Mr. Jeffers,” said Adkins. “We are pleased with the sentence of the court, which is the maximum sentence for murder as well as for theft.”
“I would like to thank Assistant Prosecutor Eric Mulford, Gallia County's prosecution staff, Detective Sgt. Jeff Boyer, Sgt. Matt Champlin from the Gallipolis Police Department, Coroner Dan Whiteley, Deputy Coroner Russell Uptegrove, Special Agent Hanshaw from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, Adam Garber and Kristen Slaper from the Attorney General's office, and all of the other witness that testified in this case,” Adkins said.
Andrea M. Hughes, 18, Southside, W.Va., was also sentenced on Friday. She had previously pled guilty to complicity to the theft of a motor vehicle, but was awaiting sentencing until the conclusion of Jeffers' trial.
Hughes was sentenced to two years of community control for her involvement in the aforementioned crimes.