Mother of Arnita Cheatham Reacts to Guilty Verdict in Murder Tri - WSET.com - ABC13

Mother of Arnita Cheatham Reacts to Guilty Verdict in Murder Trial

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Appomattox, VA - Arnita Cheatham's mother spoke to ABC 13 about Thursday night's verdict in her daughter's murder trial.

A jury recommended life in prison for Sylvester Cheatham for the first degree murder of his estranged wife.

Investigators say Cheatham lured Arnita to the Executive Inn Motel last August, where he beat her to death while she was sleeping. Cheatham took the stand in his own defense, claiming Arnita pulled a gun on him, and he acted out of self-protection. It's a story her family calls an outright lie.

Arnita's mother, Mable Johns, is feeling torn after the trial. She's rejoicing at the fact that her daughter's killer will be off the streets for good. Yet, she's still trying cope with the loss of a loved one taken from her in such a brutal way.

"It was hard to do, to sit in there and look at him," said Johns.

For two long days Johns sat in Amherst County Court listening to testimony about her daughter's death, and attacks on her character. The defense claimed Arnita was money-hungry and manipulative to the point of trying to rob Sylvester Cheatham at gun point.

"She didn't have a gun. She never had a gun," said Johns.

And, police never recovered a gun. Johns says Cheatham's story about what happened at the Executive Inn, began unraveling the moment he took the stand.

"He was back tracking himself and he was trying to get it right, and he couldn't get it right. Because when you lie, you've got to know how to tell that same lie. But see when you tell the truth, you don't have any problem."

The prosecution called witness after witness, detailing the Cheathams' rocky relationship. Johns says she knew her daughter wanted a divorce, and says that's why Arnita decided to meet with her husband. But she can't figure out why Arnita didn't tell her about the meeting.

"She had you know, said, 'he's going to sign the papers, he's going to sign the papers.' But if we had known it would have been ten cars behind her making sure that she was ok," said Johns.

It pains Johns to know Arnita's life was cut so short. But she finds solace in knowing her daughter's killer will have a lifetime to think about what he's done.

"He took my baby's life. And now, he's got to pay."

The jury also found Cheatham guilty of grand larceny for stealing Arnita's car after he killed her. He's facing life in prison, plus a $200,000 fine. His sentencing is set for June 4.

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