Through the echoing sobs in a McCracken County courtroom late Wednesday afternoon, attorney Jamey Mills pleaded with a jury to spare Michael Russian a lifetime's worth of jail. In the end, those pleas fell on deaf ears.
Russian was found guilty of the wanton murder of Adam Bullock, after a jury of nine men and three women deliberated 41â 2 hours. Less than an hour later, the jury recommended a sentence of 55 years - 50 for the murder charge and an additional five for tampering with physical evidence, to run consecutively. Russian waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation, and accepted the jury's recommended sentence.
He will be required to serve 20 years before he is eligible for parole.
Bullock came to Russian's Anderson Court apartment early June 29, 2012. At some point, an argument erupted and Bullock tried to go up the stairs in search of Russian's girlfriend, April Darnell. Russian hit Bullock over the head with a dumbbell, and later strangled Bullock with a shoelace. Two days later, he took Bullock's body - wrapped in a rug - and put it in a shopping cart. He was arrested in the early morning, while walking the cart toward the floodwall.
The trial took three days, and included the testimony of Russian himself, along with his teenage daughter, Darnell, and a variety of medical and investigatory witnesses.
Mills used his closing arguments Wednesday morning to argue for second-degree manslaughter. The charge dictates that Russian was either mistaken in perceiving a threat, or used an incorrect degree of force to eliminate the threat. He highlighted Russian's rage blackout, which he claims to have had after hitting Bullock over the head with a dumbbell. His emotions overcame him, Mills argued.
The commonwealth countered that Bullock was lured to Russian's apartment and that the killing was motivated by jealousy. Prosecutor Guthrie Allen called the killing an execution, while holding blown up photos of the slaying's gruesome aftermath and others of Bullock smiling on the couch at his family's home.
"Michael Russian went through Adam (Bullock)'s life, his family's lives and his own life like a wrecking ball," Allen told the jury. "This crime, in terms of where we fall, is at the worst end of the spectrum. This is the worst thing. It was done cruelly, without mercy and without necessity and without reason."
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.
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