Jury recommends life without parole
by Jack Latta
PRESTONSBURG — The trial of Berry hall is over, and on Monday in Floyd Circuit Court, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of Parole.
Hall was found guilty last Thursday of the 2008 double murder of Alan and Lisa Tackett.
“We’re just so glad it’s over. We feel like justice has been served,” said Norita Collins, Alan Tackett’s sister. She added that while the family is satisfied with the verdict, it does not lessen the pain of their loss.
On March 20, 2008, Berry Hall was sitting on his couch watching TV when an argument erupted between his wife and his niece. Without saying a word to anyone, Hall went upstairs and retrieved his hunting rifle, took aim, and fired one shot into the chest of Lisa Tackett. He then reloaded and fired a quick succession of shots at her husband, who exited the house after Lisa was shot. The first shot hit Alan’s left hand. The second struck him in the head.
Hall was additionally found guilty of four counts of wanton endangerment, one for each of the Tackett’s young children who were home at the time of the shooting.
The last act of Alan Tackett was to dial 911. During the testimony of dispatcher Andrea Justice, a tape of the call that originated at the Tackett residence was aired in the courtroom. For several minutes, the only sounds were the screams of the Tacketts’ children, followed by long stretches of silence mixed with barking dogs and inaudible background voices.
Lisa Tackett’s father, Burly Hall, and his wife, Tonda, are now acting guardians of Lisa and Alan Tackett’s four youngest children. Following the sentence, Tonda said the children were doing fine and they were busy making summer plans. Hall said that she hadn’t let them watch any of the news reports.
Lisa Tackett also had two older children from a previous marriage, but those children were not home at the time of the shooting. They now live with their father.
During the closing arguments for sentencing, the defense argued for little other than to spare Hall from the death penalty.
“You don’t have to vote for the death penalty. There are too many other options,” said Hall’s attorney, Jim Gibson, in closing. Gibson told the jurors that whatever their verdict, that decision would stay with them for life. “Each of you have to believe it, you have to vote for it, and you have to live with it.”
During the prosecution’s closing remarks, Commonwealth’s Attorney Arnold Brent Turner told jurors they should choose between the death penalty and life in prison without parole. “He needs to be dead, or locked away until he is dead,” Turner said.
Turner said the Tacketts’ children deserve a life free of concern over Hall ever being paroled. “These kids should never have to worry for the rest of their lives about this man ever getting out of prison.”
Jurors were given with their instructions a selection of sentences from which to choose, including 20-to-50 years in prison, life in prison, life in prison with parole after 25 years, life without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty. The jury spent nearly six hours deliberating, but in the end, they agreed with the prosecution and sentenced Hall once for each of the victims to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
After conferring with his attorneys, Hall agreed to allow Judge Johnny Ray Harris to impose a sentence for the remaining four charges of wanton endangerment of which he was found guilty. That sentencing will take place July 5, at 1 p.m., in Floyd Circuit Court.
After court adjourned, defense attorney Steve Goble said that they were very pleased with the effort given by the jury. “We are glad they came back with a verdict other than death.”
Turner said that his office was “totally satisfied” with the verdict. In fact, Turner said, the verdict was the same plea arrangement they had been offering Hall since 2008.
“We had offered Mr. Hall life without parole, and we had tried to get him to take it, and I think that his defense tried to get him to take it,” Turner said, conceding that it was Hall’s right to have his day in court.
Hall was represented by Will Collins, Steve Goble and Jim Gibson.
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