More than a year after a workplace shooting ended the life of a Pine Bluff woman, a co-worker accused of shooting her admitted the act in court Thursday morning.
Lillie Mae Foots-Wilson, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the July 23, 2012, shooting death of Latange Long, 34, inside the Central Moloney plant at Jefferson Parkway where both women worked.
Wilson had been charged with capital murder but in a deal worked out with prosecutors and her attorney, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge.
Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis sentenced Wilson to 30 years in prison but told her that if she had gone to trial, the state would have maintained the capital murder charge, which is punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole; or death by lethal injection.
Also as a part of the agreement, prosecutors dropped the firearms enhancement, which could have resulted in Wilson being sentenced to prison for up to 15 years, to be served after any sentence she received in the shooting.
“Did you kill Latange Long?” Dennis asked Wilson, who softly said “yes” before turning to a crowd of Long’s family members who had gathered in the courtroom to hear the sentence.
“I would give up my life to bring her back,” Wilson said through tears. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”
“I don’t agree with the sentence,” said Joyce Scott, a sister of Long. “She’s only sorry for the time she received. She should have gotten more time.”
Another of Long’s sisters, Cynthia Mack Holman, said “I don’t think she meant a word she said.”
According to the police investigation, Wilson said she and Long had been involved in an ongoing dispute for six years, and that Long had bullied her, pushed her into a corner, called her names, sabotaged her machine and took trash from her own work area and put it in Wilson’s work area.
Wilson said she had filed complaints with management about the incident and nothing had been done about them.
On the day of the shooting, Wilson said she received permission to go home to take headache medication. While there, she put her .357-magnum pistol in her pocket before going back to work.
“She said if Long continued to harass her, she was going to pop her in the leg to show her she meant business,” Pine Bluff Police Department Detective Bill Wiegand said in a probable cause hearing for Wilson last July
Wiegand said Wilson told police that when she returned to work, Long called her a derogatory name and Wilson “took the gun out of her pocket and started shooting.”
After firing at least five shots, Wilson reportedly stopped shooting, opened the cylinder of the weapon and dumped out the shell casings, then reloaded the gun with shells she had in her pocket.
A manager at the plant gave police the gun Wilson had allegedly used in the shooting.
“She did what she said she was going to do,” Holman said. “She drove to her home and back to her job so she had time to change her mind.
“She took away a sister, a mother and a friend,” Holman said. “My mother is suffering daily. Maybe this is a new beginning but there’s a long road ahead.”
Corjalon Evans, 16, Long’s son, was also present in the courtroom during the sentencing.
“I wish she would have gotten life,” he said. “Like my auntie said, she had time to think about what she was going to do.”
Wilson, who has been scheduled for trial in October, was represented by attorney Sandra Trotter-Phillips of the Public Defender’s Office. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau and Deputy Prosecutor Jill Reed represented the state.