Three life sentences for man who killed elderly woman, two teens

Rose Cobbing says Courtney Williams “got what he deserved” Friday — three consecutive sentences of life in prison for fatally shooting her 19-year-old daughter, who was Williams’ former girlfriend, and two other women inside a north Baton Rouge home in 2011.

“I’m glad that it’s over. I’m able to move forward and put this behind me and take care of her two young kids,” Cobbing said outside state District Judge Richard Anderson’s courtroom after Williams was sentenced in the slaying of her daughter, Clarissa Cobbing; Britney Lee, 18; and Josephine Lathers, 76.

Rose Cobbing takes care of her slain daughter’s children — a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

Theresa Lee, who is Lathers’ granddaughter and Lee’s aunt, now cares for Britney Lee’s 6-year-old daughter.

“I forgive him for what he did. I can go on with my life now,” Lee said outside the courtroom. “I’m glad it’s over.”

Inside the courtroom, Clarissa Cobbing’s cousin, Talisha Cobbing, told the judge she can’t believe Cobbing is gone.

“I still wait for her to come home,” she said, noting that Clarissa Cobbing’s “pride and joy” were her children. “I just can’t help but wonder why” the triple-murder happened, she said.

Baton Rouge police and East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors said they consider the Sept. 10, 2011, killings acts of domestic violence.

Williams, 24, of Baton Rouge, declined Anderson’s invitation Friday to make a statement. Williams did not testify at his trial.

“This is a horrible crime. Each one deserves to be singled out,” the judge said in explaining why he ordered Williams’ three life terms to run consecutively.

A jury unanimously convicted Williams of three counts of first-degree murder on Feb. 27. Prosecutors previously dropped their pursuit of the death penalty after it was determined Williams is mildly mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court has barred the execution of mentally retarded people.

Williams killed the women inside a Progress Street home shared by Lathers and Britney Lee. Lathers was Lee’s great-grandmother.

During the trial, jurors listened to a series of 911 calls that Clarissa Cobbing made less than three weeks before the fatal shootings. She reported to police in those calls that Williams had beat her, threatened to burn down her house and twice kidnapped her youngest child.

Authorities have said Williams was not arrested prior to the fatal shootings in any of the alleged incidents leading up to the killings because police could not find him.

Prosecutor Dana Cummings on Friday dismissed arson and kidnapping charges that were filed against Williams after the killings.

Williams’ lead court-appointed attorney, Kyla Romanach, presented an alibi defense at the trial, arguing that Williams was in Port Allen the day of the killings and could not have been in two places at once. Two of Williams’ cousins testified they were with him in Port Allen that Saturday, but neither cousin could account for Williams’ precise whereabouts at the time of the midafternoon killings.

Williams had been released from juvenile custody in January 2011. He was convicted in Juvenile Court in the mid-2000s of aggravated battery and forcible rape and given juvenile life sentences for each crime, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said.

Juvenile life means youths ages 14 to 17 can be held in juvenile custody until their 21st birthdays. Williams turned 21 on Jan. 17, 2011.