Within moments of Quentin Horton being sentenced to life without parole, his attorney, Brandy Payne, informed Judge Kathy Palmer that he would file an appeal.
However, after a rocky relationship between the defendant and the defense attorney, Payne announced that she would also request new representation for the appeal.
Horton was sentenced on Wednesday in the February 2015 murder of neighbor Jeffery Hagan and the arson of his home to conceal the murder.
The jury deliberated less than an hour before they found Horton guilty of malice murder, arson in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, and concealing the death of another. After the pronouncement of guilt for those charges, jurors were presented with another charge, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, to which they also found Horton guilty.
He received life without parole for the murder, 20 years each for the arson and burglary and 10 years for concealing the death, all to run concurrent. The additional charge of possession added five years to run consecutive.
The trial lasted two full days, with deliberations being completed before noon of the third day. After jurors were dismissed following the pronouncement of guilt, the sentencing part of the trial begin.
Hagan’s brother Darrell Hagan, made an impassioned plea to the judge for justice for his brother.
“He was a devoted son and brother,” Hagan said of Jeffery. “Jeff and Dad fished together at the Ogeechee River. He loved Mom with all his heart.
“He worked for Comcast and was the best producing worker they had,” Hagan said.
He then recalled how he was on board a flight when an attendant alerted him that he needed to call home. That’s when he learned of his brother’s death, Hagan said. His parents were in church when the deputy sheriff came to get them.
At that time, Hagan said, no one knew of the cause of death.
“He had recent neck surgery, but it still did not seem right that he could not escape,” Hagan said.
A few days after his brother’s death, Hagan said he and his father were at the home cleaning out the barn when Quentin Horton approached them.
“He came over like a caring neighbor,” Hagan said. However, he stressed, even at that time, Horton’s behavior was odd.
It was later that same day that the family learned that Jeffery Hagan had been killed and that his death was caused by multiple stab wounds.
“There is never a reason to take a life, especially my brother’s life. We have felt the effects of this murder of Jeff Hagan -- my brother -- every day for over 1-1/2 years and will continue until we see him again.
“I can’t tell how many times I or (brother) Greg wanted to call and talk to Jeff and then remembered he is not here because of a senseless act.
“We believe in the power of God, our Heavenly Father ... however, our Father is a just God. We have faith He will avenge the loss of our brother and faith the justice system will do the same.”
Neither Horton nor his family had any words to offer before Judge Palmer issued her sentence.