MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Shelby County jury found Tremaine Wilbourn, the man accused of killing Memphis Police Officer Sean Bolton, guilty of first-degree murder.
Jury deliberations began early Sunday morning and concluded around noon.
In addition to the murder charge, the Shelby County jury found Wilbourn guilty of carjacking, possession of a firearm and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
After the verdict was read, the state made Wilbourn an offer that would take death penalty off the table. The deal would call for Wilbourn to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
After he was presented with the deal, everyone that was sitting inside of the courtroom cleared out so that Wilbourn could discuss it with his grandmother. Wilbourn eventually asked the judge for more time to think about it, but the judge denied that request. He then stated that he would accept the offer.
Officer Bolton’s family rejected the recommendation of life without parole. So the jury stepped back into the courtroom and the sentencing hearing continued.
“We will be asking you to follow the law and you all said follow, and return a verdict of death,” Prosecutor Leslie Boyd said.
Officer Bolton’s brother, Brian Bolton, told the courtroom his brother was killed six days before his birthday.
“We all sit down on my brother’s birthday and have a fancy dinner. Some of us still get together.”
He told the courtroom his mother hasn’t been the same since Officer Bolton’s death.
“My mother has not been able to work as a nurse since that day. She hasn’t been to work,” he said.
Jacoba Boyd, a friend of Bolton’s, told the courtroom what the charge to protect and serve meant to Bolton.
“I talked to Sean and convinced him to join the police department. What did being an officer mean to Sean? It meant everything to him,” Boyd said.
Also during the hearing, a probation officer described Wilbourn as violent and said he had been fired from jobs and had even been in trouble for throwing gang sings in a halfway house.
Wilbourn’s attorneys pointed out their clients exposure to sexual abuse and violence, and finished by telling the jury to spare his life.
“Choose life and the verdict will be life. And by life, I mean spending the rest of his life behind bars,” Deffense Attorney Juni Ganguli said.
The state rested it’s case in the sentencing hearing on Sunday, and the defense will make it’s case on Monday.