Reporting Steve Sandberg
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A convicted killer who claimed he was helping a man commit suicide was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison Monday.
Kenneth Minor, 38, was found guilty in March of the murder of motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker.
The defendant yelled an expletive after the sentence was pronounced.
“Only two people in the world know what happened that night, and one of them is not here no more,” said Minor, whose voice sometimes broke as he addressed the court.
“I was going to pay for the part I played in this situation. And I would be the first to stand up as a man to take responsibility…. I’m no animal, and I ain’t got no malice in my heart,” Minor said.
“In the end, a life is a life. And I ask your forgiveness,” he concluded.
Minor believes race was a factor in his prosecution.
“He was very upset and I understand that because from day one he wanted this resolved and he feels that he was discriminated against,” attorney Daniel Gotlin said.
Minor begged for a 15 year sentence, which is what he would have received if the prosecution had agreed to a manslaughter plea.
Gotlin calls this a miscarriage of justice.
“Nobody in New York State has ever, ever, ever been convicted of murder on an assisted-suicide case,” Gotlin said. “This was nothing more than an assisted-suicide made to look like a murder so his family could collect $12 million in life insurance – that’s what this was all about.”
Locker was found stabbed to death in his car in East Harlem in July 2009.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Attorney Daniel Gotlin sounds off on the sentence
Minor said Locker gave him a knife and that he held the knife against the steering wheel while Locker lunged his body repeatedly into it.
Prosecutors said Minor went beyond aiding suicide by stabbing the 52-year-old Locker seven times in the self-help expert’s car.
The defense argued Locker drove to East Harlem and searched for a hitman for himself. They said he was in deep debt and the money from a life insurance claim would help his family.
Gotlin tried to portray Locker as a puppeteer who engineered his own death. In his opening remarks in the case, Gotlin called Locker “the ultimate con man” who found “the ultimate sucker,” Minor.
Gotlin told WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell he thought the jury rejected the assisted suicide defense because of the way the judge explained the charge to the jury.
“There’s a phrase you can be charged out of the courthouse and I think that’s what the judge did here. She mistakenly, in my belief, charged to the jury that assisted suicide only applies if you act passively and that is not what the statute says. She told them that if he actively participated in the death of Jeffrey Locker, even with Locker’s consent, he’s not entitled to that defense,” said Gotlin.
Prosecutors said the evidence didn’t support any kind of suicide-by-proxy argument.
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)