Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility'My husband was human': Gun violence impacting Macon man's family 3 years after his death | WGXA
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'My husband was human': Gun violence impacting Macon man's family 3 years after his death

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MACON, Ga. -- A weekend shooting left one dead bringing Macon's toll to 24 lives taken by violence in 2021. At the same time, justice is finally being served for similar violent actions taken in 2018.

Rashad Mays was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on May 28, 2021-- more than three years after he shot Tavares Lester in the back at an Econo Lodge on Riverside Drive.

READ MORE: 'Zero threat to you': Man found guilty in 2018 Econo Lodge murder

Before being sentenced by Judge Howard Simms, Lester's family was given the chance to speak on the toll their loved one's death has taken on them.

His daughter Taleeyah told Judge Simms losing a parent is never easy, especially at 14. "It affected me majorly, but especially my mom. Because of it, I have severe depression and anxiety," she said.

She called her father her "superman."

Taleeyah wants to make her father proud. Next year she'll get the opportunity to do that as she walks across the stage as a high school graduate, she told Simms.

Taleeyah described Mr. Mays as "like an uncle" to her.

"I never thought he would do something like this," she says.

Lester's wife of 18 years spoke next -- saying the day he was killed was their anniversary.

You have taken someone from us that we love very much. My husband was human just like you and I. He made mistakes just like you and I," she says. "He was more than a husband to me. He was my best friend, my protector, he was my other half, he was my soul mate, he was my everything.

She too suffers from depression, anxiety, bad dreams, and fears for her kids being out without her.

Both expressed they had no ill will towards Mays and only wished him the best.

Lester's family weren't the only people to speak.

Mays's father, Rufus, apologized for his son's actions that day, showing the impact of gun violence doesn't stop with the victim's family.

"I knew Tavares Lester myself and he was a good guy. My son loved him and treated him like a big brother," he says. "I don't know what happened that day but I just wanted to say I was sorry that it happened."

Judge Simms told him he had nothing to apologize for.

"I feel very badly for Mr. Lester's family, but I also feel bad for you. You didn't ask for this, they didn't ask for this."

Judge Simms spoke about the number of cases he sees in his courtroom for senseless violence that ends in death.

"We were just here the week before last, doing the same thing and having the exact same conversation, "says Simms. "Like every week now that I have a trial, we are in here talking about two young men, one of them who shot and killed the other. Both of their families change forever."

Mays's defense team tried to argue the shooting was self-defense. Multiple times during the trial, Lester was pinned as a bully towards Mays.

RELATED STORY: Attorney says defendant was acting in self defense during 2018 Econo Lodge murder

In an interview with Bibb County investigators, Mays told investigator Shaun Bridger that "four years of bullying all came out in one day."

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"He posed absolutely zero threat to you from across the parking lot. It might well be that you had enough of what he was saying to you but having enough of what someone is saying is never a justification for killing them" says Simms. "Contrary to popular belief, this is not Tombstone, Arizona in the 19th Century. This is not Dodge City in the 19th Century. At some point, somehow, we are going to stop settling our disputes with a pistol. If it takes sending folks to the penitentiary for the rest of their lives, then that's what it takes."

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