A Texas man convicted of shooting a New Carrollton woman, her sister and her two young children was sentenced Friday to spend the rest of his life in prison.
A Prince George's County jury convicted Darrell Lynn Bellard, 47, of Dickinson, Texas, in April on four counts of first-degree murder in the 2010 execution-style shooting deaths of Dawn Brooks, her two young children and the children's aunt, Mwasiti Sikyala.
He was sentenced on Friday to four life sentences, another four life without parole sentences plus 80 years.
WJLA TV reports that prosecutors say Bellard killed the family because he believed Brooks and Sikyala were responsible for the disappearance of 60 pounds of marijuana that Bellard brought with him from Texas to sell.
Bellard denied he killed Brooks and her family. He said he falsely confessed to police because he was trying to protect his girlfriend, T’keisha Nicole Gilmer, in hopes police would release her after a confession.
“I only confessed because I love T’keisha so much,” Bellard said in court Friday, reports The Washington Post. “There’s no way I could take the lives of two innocent kids and two mothers.”
Judge Dwight D. Jackson said Bellard committed “mass murder” as he handed down his sentence. The Post says Bellard might have been the first Maryland inmate to face the death penalty in more than a decade, but state lawmakers abolished capital punishment last year.
Family members of the victims said they wished that Bellard could have faced the death penalty.
“Life in prison is not enough,” Nyunzi Sikyala, Brooks’s fiance and the father of the two children, told the newspaper.