By Tate Davis
On Monday, October 4, Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice ordered Robert Leroy Littleton, III, to serve life in prison, plus an additional twenty years for the 2018 kidnapping and murder of Carlton Lamaar Edmondson. A Johnson County jury convicted Littleton, one of six charged in the case, in July.
Under current Tennessee law, “life” carries parole eligibility in 51 years. On Monday, Littleton was ordered to serve 100 percent of twenty additional years for committing an especially aggravated kidnapping. The sentence will run consecutive to the automatic life imprisonment dictated by his first-degree murder conviction.
According to authorities, Edmondson was kidnapped in Burke County, North Carolina, and taken to Johnson County, where he was beaten to death. Video of the beating was presented in securing Littleton’s conviction. On January 18, 2018, the kidnappers called Edmondson’s family demanding money. Edmondson could be heard frantically begging for his life during the telephone calls. His body has never been found.
Addressing Littleton directly, Lenisha Kincaid, Edmondson’s mother, said, “You murdered my child. You took what wasn’t yours.” Tearfully recalling Littleton’s taunts over the telephone while hearing her son’s cries for mercy, Kincaid declared, “You had the nerve to tell him that I didn’t love him. You had no right.”
“Something told me not to cry today,” Edmondson’s father, Robert Pearson, testified. “I’m going to stay strong.” Facing Littleton, Pearson said, “I hope you see my son. I hope you see his face. I do. You have no remorse on your face.”
Expressionless throughout much of the hearing, Littleton did not attempt to look away during the emotional words from Edmondson’s family.
Afterward, Littleton briefly testified. Looking down to avoid making eye contact, Littleton said, “I apologize for my actions. I apologize to the families. Not only Carlton’s family but to everyone in this matter. That’s all I’ve got.” He held his head down while shuffling off the witness stand in shackles.
Asked to characterize Littleton after the hearing, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks responded, “I don’t see anything redeeming about him.” Brooks said, “I’m pleased [the judge] gave him extra time,” adding that he is not optimistic the defendants will reveal the location of Edmondson’s body. “I’ve tried to give this family closure. So far, I have failed.”
Outside the courthouse, Kincaid told The Tomahawk she was “quite pleased” with the sentencing. “I want to thank the good citizens of Mountain City for the support shown our family,” she said.
“It’s tragic, but this is just such a beautiful place.” Edmondson’s father said, “We want closure. We want our son. We’re asking for that closure.”
Co-defendant Michael Stacey May’s trial is set for December 14 in Johnson County Criminal Court.