CHIPLEY - Emmanuel Forrest Lockhart stood stoically in a Washington County courtroom Thursday as he was sentenced in to serve life in prison for the July 2016 shooting of Colonial Restaurant owner Jody Rhoda as she left the restaurant for the day.
Lockhart was also sentenced to a concurrent second life term for attempted robbery with a firearm and another 15 years for burglary with assault or battery.
Lockhart's grandmother spoke on his behalf, pleading Circuit Judge Timothy Register for mercy on her grandson, asking the judge to consider Lockhart's life as an abused child.
Ultimately, Judge Register told Lockhart he was responsible for his own actions.
"I realize you had a difficult childhood," Judge Register told Lockhart. "... but there is a certain point in time when you have got to realize that you are your own man and that you make your own decisions … while a bad childhood can excuse a lot of things … it gave you no reason to act the way you did that day."
Judge Register went on to refer to a letter Lockhart submitted for consideration during his sentencing.
"You wrote in your letter you are sorry for what happened, and you may very well be today sorry for what happened - but my concern is that on that day, you didn't act sorry at all. At some point, you made a conscious decision to squeeze that trigger nine times."
Lockhart, who has already served 341 days in the Washington County Jail, is now awaiting transfer to a state correctional facility.
Rhoda, who continued her recovery through physical and occupational therapy, eventually returned to work at the restaurant. She declined to attend the sentencing but previously told the Washington County News that while she is glad justice prevailed, the outcome is not an entirely happy occasion.
"My heart goes out to Lockhart's family, as well as my own," she said.