Four people were sentenced on Thursday in connection with the death of a beloved Cooley Lounge bartender in 2016. Three of them received life in prison without parole.
According to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley, Anita Hollins, 44, held a grudge over an altercation that happened at the bar in August 2016. Then, on Oct. 24, 2016, Dana Thomas, 30, Nigel Brunson, 20, and Dwayne Sims, 21, went into the west side bar and ordered everyone inside to get on the ground, according to the prosecutor's office. They robbed the customers of their purses, wallets and cell phones, authorities said.
Thomas ordered the bartender Melissa "Missy" Brinker, 44, into the back office and shot her once, officials said. Brunson went into the back room to check on her. When he noticed she was still alive, he shot her point blank and killed her, authorities said.
Before the four defendants presented their case to the jury, a fifth defendant, Garry Lake, pleaded guilty to robbery and served as a witness during the trial, the prosecutor's office said.
After the trial began, Sims admitted to robbing the customers and pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and kidnapping, according to officials.
The jury found Brunson and Hollins guilty of 22 charges, including aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, aggravated burglary and felonious assault. Authorities said Thomas elected to have his case tried before the judge.
Sims was sentenced to 14 years in prison for two aggravated robbery charges and one three-year firearm specification.
Hollins, Thomas and Brunson were sentenced to life in prison without parole. Lake's sentence was continued to a later date.