Amherst County -
Amherst Co., VA – A judge sentenced Sylvester Cheatham Tuesday to life in prison for killing his wife.
Emotions and tears filled the Amherst County Circuit Court, as the family of Arnitra Cheatham faced her murderer, Sylvester Cheatham, for one last time. Before sentencing, Arnitra's family gave live impact statements before the courtroom, many of them breaking down on the stand, trying to describe the pain their families have gone through. Arnitra's sister Lolita Presley told the court she looks for her everyday, and her 3 grandkids still ask her why their aunt hasn't returned to visit.
A jury recommended a life sentence, plus a $20,000 fine back in March. Cheatham's attorney, Andrew Childress, asked judge J. Michael Gamble to reduce the jail term to 25 years, saying tragedies don't have easy answers. Amherst County Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Maddox insisted the punishment fit the life sentence, saying the murder was a "cold blooded killing". Judge Gamble agreed, sentencing Cheatham to life in prison for the murder, plus an additional year for a separate grand larceny charge.
Arnitra's mother, Mabel Johns, said in court, at one time, she loved Sylvester as a part of the family. Johns continued, saying she felt like justice has been served, but she, as well as the rest of Arnitra's family, just want to know why this happened. After the sentencing, she couldn't contain her emotions, saying "I said to Him, Dear Lord, keep your arms locked around his family, and may he burn in hell!"