published Friday, June 6th, 2014

Life sentence for man convicted in 2011 Apison murder

Christian Sosa's mother says that "God gave justice" when a jury on Thursday convicted Nathan Lalone of murdering her son on Nov. 16, 2011.

The jury took less than five hours on Thursday to find that Lalone, 22, had ambushed and shot Sosa, 19, and tried to kill Sosa's girlfriend, Meghan Bennett, when he fired round after round into their car.

They convicted him of first-degree murder in Sosa's death and attempted first-degree murder for the two bullets that struck Bennett. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Sosa's mother, Mirta Sosa, gave a statement to local media following the Thursday evening verdict: "I am satisfied with the verdict and I believe God gave justice. My son never deserved to die. He was a good person with a big heart and was loved by many. Although justice was served, my life will never be the same. I will always love my son."

Prosecutors showed that Lalone wanted to punish Sosa for stealing a gun from him earlier. He, Tyler Conrad and Blakelen Adams talked about killing Sosa. Then Conrad called Sosa to the Apison tennis courts to smoke marijuana.

Bennett testified Tuesday, in the first day of the trial, that when she pulled into the parking space at about 10:15 p.m. a tall man in black with a mask emerged from the woods and started firing. She drove her car to her parents' nearby home, but Sosa died on the way.

Walmart camera footage showed Conrad, Adams and Sabrina Lovett in the store near the time of the shooting and Lalone arriving more than 20 minutes after the 911 call that followed the killing.

Lalone first told police that Conrad had killed Sosa and told him details. He then claimed Conrad and Adams were setting him up for the death.

Conrad died in June 2013 so his attorneys, Kevin Loper and Jeffrey Schaarschmidt, couldn't challenge much of his statements to police. Loper said not having Conrad as a witness made the case more difficult.

  • photo
    Defendant Nathan Lalone listens as a jury is picked for his trial Tuesday in Criminal Court.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Prosecutors Brian Finlay and Kristen Spires showed evidence that included the camera footage and Lalone's driver's license, which was found in the woods 150 feet from the shooting scene.

Finlay said that such concrete evidence coupled with witness testimony helped present the case to the jury.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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