Man gets 6 years behind bars for death of Knoxville grandmother

(WBIR) Frank Gary Cooper was sentenced to six years behind bars on Friday for the killing of a Knoxville grandmother.

The judge sentenced Cooper two years for criminally negligent homicide and four years for facilitation of aggravated burglary.

"This was a terribly difficult homicide," said Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz. "Cooper admitted they talked about it for two weeks before going."

Judge Leibowitz cited Cooper's lengthy criminal history, which dates back to when he was 13 years old, when announcing the sentence. Cooper assaulted an officer last year, and has admitted to a history of drugs and involvement in a gang.

Family members shared tears as they listened to one another take the stand. Friday was the first time they spoke at a court hearing since Nola Atkins, 72, was killed on March 21, 2008.

"My grandmother was the link that kept everybody together," said Denise Atkins, one of Atkins' granddaughters."No matter what, It's not going to take the pain away. It's not going to make me stop thinking about what happened."

Investigators said Cooper and two or three other men broke into her home under the assumption she had won a million dollar jackpot. Her son found Atkins dead in her home on Selma Avenue with a shotgun blast to the face.

In January, a jury found him not guilty of felony murder, but instead the lesser charges.

MORE: Jury convicts Cooper of Nola Atkin's murder

"Six years isn't enough, and what about the other guys who won't spend any time behind bars," said Terreka Holloway Smith, Atkins' granddaughter. "We've gotten a little justice. But he's going to be back out here. And I mean I wonder who's next."

"I'm content with what happened today. But at the same time, it's not over. It'll never be over, it'll never be over for us," said Roneshea Martin, Atkins' youngest granddaughter.

"It's not going to take the pain away, it's not going to make us heal. It's just kind of giving us a little bit of closure to move on but we'll never get over this," said Denise Atkins.

Cooper has already served more than three years behind bars, and will get credit for that time served. Judge Leibowitz said since convicts are eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of their sentence, it will be up to the Tennessee Department of Corrections on when he will be released.

Back in 2008, former Governor Phil Brenesen had announced a reward that led to the arrest of Darius Kyle, but the charges were later dropped.


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