The man found guilty of murdering a woman and wounding two others in a 2011 Midtown shooting spree was sentenced to life without parole plus 65 years in prison Thursday.
Brittney Watts’ husband struggled through tears to speak to the court to ask for the maximum sentence for Nkosi Thandiwe, the former Midtown security guard who shot and killed his wife.
“I’ve mourned Brittney for the last 568 days,” he said. “I realize the worst day of my life is in my past … But I also realize the best days of my life are, too.”
Brian Watts brushed flowing hair from his face and lamented looking forward “to the day that I die so that I can be with Brittney again.”
Thandiwe was convicted Thursday of fatally shooting Watts, paralyzing Lauren Garcia and injuring Tiffany Ferenczy.
Thandiwe was found guilty of all the counts against him and the sentencing phase of the trial began immediately. He was charged with murder, felony murder—causing a death during the commission of a felony—several counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, carjacking and gun offenses.
A juror was dismissed earlier Thursday on the fourth day of Thandiwe’s murder trial, and prosecutors told the court that his July 15, 2011 shooting spree was the result of racism, not insanity as his attorney claimed.
“He told you he shot Brittney Watts, Lauren Garcia and Tiffany Ferenczy because he had adopted all these racist ideals,” Fulton County assistant district attorney Linda Dunikoski said to the jury, referring to Thandiwe’s testimony on Wednesday. “If race disorder was a [mental illness], then the Ku Klux Klan could murder and kill with impunity.”
Thandiwe, 23, was accused of fatally shooting Watts in the neck in a Midtown parking deck as she left her office for lunch, then taking her car, apparently hitting her body as he pulled away, then firing into a crowd of women walking along Crescent Street as he sped off, striking Ferenczy and Garcia and leaving Garcia paralyzed from the waist down.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly A. Lee, in an unusual move on Wednesday, moved to allow Thandiwe’s attorney to file an insanity defense late in the trial by ordering a mental evaluation be made overnight to determine whether the verdict options of “not guilty by reason of insanity” and “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but mentally ill” to the choices the jury had to consider.
Thursday morning, she added both choices to the verdict sheet the jurors would read during deliberation, and recommended to them that “if the jury determines ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ to stop deliberations.”
But while a mental health professional reviewed Thandiwe on Wednesday evening to support adding new verdict choices for the jury, no one evaluated him or testified to his mental well-being.
[Editor’s Note: See here for more on this case.]