72-year-old sentenced to 85 years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Convicted murderer Bobby Wayne Copeland was sentenced to 85 years in prison Monday for the 2009 shooting death of his wife, Dorothy.

Copeland, 72, expressed no remorse when he appeared in court wearing prison stripes and gave his statement before the sentence was handed down by Circuit Judge M. Ashley McKathan.

“I don’t know how to phrase this, but I think the testimony given by the Cravey family was rehearsed by the district attorney’s office,” he said. Testimony for the prosecution was given by Mrs. Copeland’s family – her nephews, Ashley and Sonny Cravey, as well has her daughter, Janie Sasser – who believed the shooting occurred when she decided to leave her husband.

Copeland offered no apologies to the family Monday, nor did he ask for leniency from the court; however, his attorney, Joe Sawyer, did ask McKathan to show compassion “because of (his) client’s health conditions.”

Those issues, which ranged from a “bad heart” to “bad lungs,” caused multiple hospital stays, as well as trial delays, while he was incarcerated prior to the trial.

Testimony from the prosecution, which was represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter and ADAs Emmett Massey and Paul Adams, described Copeland as a “greedy, selfish man” who killed his wife “when she stood up for herself.”

As a defense, Copeland maintained he had no recollection of the events that led up to his wife’s death. It took a jury 20 minutes to convict Copeland of murder the day before Thanksgiving.

McKathan said he used a worksheet, which sets out sentencing guidelines in determining the time Copeland will spend behind bars. Copeland will be eligible for parole “someday,” McKathan said.

Under McKathan’s sentencing, Copeland is required to pay court costs, a $100 assessment to the Alabama Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund and $11,227 in restitution for his wife’s funeral expenses. He will receive credit for jail time served while he was awaiting trial.

“With this sentence, Judge McKathan has sent the message that nothing mitigates murder, and that Mr. Copeland’s age and health do not give him a right to take a life nor does it give him a right to a lesser sentence,” Jeter said.

Sawyer said he plans to file a motion for a new trial on his client’s behalf, and later, an appeal.