Man to spend 15 years for killing childhood friend after smoking meth

Photo: WKRN

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Rutherford County man will spend the next 15 years in prison, minus the time he’s already served, after allegedly smoking meth and then killing his friend in cold blood.

Justin Odom, 24, made a deal with prosecutors pleading guilty to the lesser charges of second degree murder and aggravated assault.

He was originally facing first-degree and attempted murder charges.

The family of the murder victim, Charles Light, 29, was quite emotional in court as they looked on as Odom admitted to the crime.

The victim’s mother Phyliss Light, wiped back tears, and then stared directly into the eyes of her son’s killer in court.

“I just locked my eyes with him, and I saw him look at me, and he knows,” Light said.

She said Odom and her son Charles were good friends since age seven.

“I wished it was him instead of my son,” the grieving mother said. “I know you are not supposed to hate anyone, but that’s what I feel about him, just hate that he took my son.”

Evidence revealed Odom smoked quite a bit of meth and came outside of a home on Amerson Court in Rutherford County in August 2014, and shot Light shot in the head as he sat on the porch.

Odom also shot Wendy Whittemore.

Whittemore was the mother of his girlfriend.

Judge David Bragg sentenced Odom to 15 years in prison at 100 percent, minus the time he’s already served in jail; and 5 years for aggravated assault.

The sentences will run concurrently, meaning at the same time.

“Knowing you couldn’t do anything to help him, that was worse than any prison sentence,” the victim’s sister Jennifer Parker said.

The victim’s sister Jennifer Parker gave a statement in court.

“My family hopes that every day in that cell feels like an eternity, and that you find no joy in life now or ever,” Parker said. “Our brother is serving a death sentence for choices Justin Odom made.”

Assistant District Attorney General J. Paul Newman said after weighing all the evidence, agreeing to a plea deal was probably the best option.

“We had to take into consideration the fact that the defendant in this case had been heavily using drugs that day and realize the jury in that case might decide he could not premediate or act knowingly,” Newman said after the hearing.

The family agreed to the plea deal because they didn’t want to have to relive the tragedy all over again.

“I’m just hoping he pays every day, that it’s rough for him,” Light said.

They are now sending a message to those who use drugs.

“It’s unfortunately that you can commit crimes like this under the influence of crimes, and it’s something you shouldn’t be doing,” Parker said.

Amanda Young was a co-defendant in the case.

She was charged with filing a false report, claiming she was the one who pulled the trigger. She received three years suspended for agreeing to testify against Odom if the case would have gone to trial.

Because of time served, Odom will only have to spend about 13-and-a-half years in prison.

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