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Teen, pair to be sentenced Monday in 2011 murders

JONESBORO — Convicted killers in two high-profile cases are due to be sentenced in Clayton County Superior Court Monday.

Kevin Kosturi was 15 when he shot and killed in girlfriend in a fit of jealousy, said police. He was convicted of murder March 1 in the February 2011 shooting death of Angel Hope Freeman, 16. He will be back in Judge Geronda Carter’s courtroom Monday for sentencing.

Both families are expected to attend the 10:30 a.m. hearing.

Defense attorney Scott Dawkins said he plans to explore all areas to mitigate the teenager’s punishment. Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said Kosturi faces a minimum of life in prison with the possibility of parole plus 11 years and a maximum of life without parole.

Kosturi’s neighbor, Robert Bethune, pleaded guilty to providing the teen with the gun used to kill Freeman. He hasn’t been sentenced yet and there is not a date set, said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Dixon. Dixon and Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Thurston prosecuted the case.

A 1:30 p.m. sentencing hearing has been set Monday for convicted killers Chaz Jensen Ballard and Singlee Soun. They were found guilty of murder March 1 in the February 2011 shooting death of James Johnson, 27, of Alabama. Johnson was shot eight times inside a motel room at the Econo Lodge on Upper Riverdale Road in Jonesboro.

Assistant District Attorney Travis Meyer will ask for life without parole. He said he was pleased with the verdict, which came about two hours and 20 minutes after deliberations began.

Johnson’s brother, Gill Johnson Jr., and his parents attended every day of the trial, having driven into Jonesboro from Alabama. They will return for sentencing March 18. They were pleased with the verdict.

“We’re very pleased, we’re very thankful for how we were treated, especially since we were from out of town,” he said. “We’re pleased with the DA’s Office and everyone who helped with the case, from detectives to victims advocate to the prosecutors. We’re very pleased with the justice system that came to a fair verdict.”

Johnson said his family will ask for life without parole for the pair.