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James Sparks-Henderson will not get death penalty in quintuple homicide case

Posted at 9:21 AM, May 08, 2015
and last updated 2017-05-10 16:57:08-04

James Sparks-Henderson, the man accused in a quintuple homicide on the city's east side, will not get the death penalty.

Prosecutors said Sparks-Henderson signed an agreement to give a full confession. 

"This was a horrific crime," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty at the time of the murders. "One of the most terrible crimes in Cleveland's history."

Family members said they were not consulted before prosecutors made the deal, but were pleased with the confession. Sherita Johnson's son Jalonte said he is in favor of the deal that was reached. "I'm not going to wish death on nobody. I'm not going to fault him for [reaching a deal]."

Lemon Bryant's brother, John Anderson, said he also agrees with prosecutors cutting a deal to get a confession. "I'm glad that he confessed."

Police said a sample of Sparks-Henderson's DNA was obtained and matched what was found at the scene. 

When Sparks-Henderson was arrested, he was found to have a concealed 9-mm gun loaded with 15 rounds, police said. The weapon was tested and matched casings and bullets at the scene as well as bullets recovered from the bodies of the victims.

Sparks-Henderson told police he found the gun on railroad tracks.

One major question that the public had was about Sparks-Henderson's relationship to the victims. Police said Sparks-Henderson described victim Jario Taylor as one of his best friends.

There was a gasp in the room of the press conference when McGinty said Sparks-Henderson ate a meal at the home right after the murders.

Five people, two men and two women, one of whom was 28 weeks pregnant, were killed Nov. 21, 2014 at a home located at East 92nd Street and Wade Park Avenue.

MORE: Family says prayers answered

Lemon Bryant, 60, Sherita Johnson, 41, her unborn baby, her 18-year-old son Jario Taylor and his 17-year-old girlfriend Shaylona Williams were all murdered by a masked man, according to Cleveland police.

A 9-year-old girl was also shot.