WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — A man accused of killing a five-year-old boy in Wilson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday morning, according to the Wilson County District Attorney’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office said Darius Sessoms pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the August 2020 shooting death of five-year-old Cannon Hinnant.
In October, a judge ruled Sessoms would face the death penalty if the case went to trial, and he was convicted. Sessom’s plea deal Thursday meant the death penalty was no longer an option, according to Hinnant’s mother Bonny Parker.
Parker wanted Sessoms to face the death penalty, but said the plea is what’s fair for her nine and 10-year-old daughters because she didn’t want them to have to testify as eyewitnesses if the case continued to trial.
“Though his life should be cut short, my girls don’t deserve to go through that,” Parker said.
Additionally, Parker delivered a victim impact statement in court. She said she has waited more than two years to say those words to Sessom.
“It was like a million bricks lifted off my shoulders, like I needed to say that to him,” Parker said.
As the legal process comes to a close, Parker said she does not have closure because she does not know why her son was killed.
“So, it’ll never be closure for me,” Parker said. “Yes it’s peace to know that I don’t have to walk back in that courtroom and see his face again, [but] he’ll suffer in that prison, and he’ll have to face what he [has] done every day for the rest of his life.”
The death penalty was also a possibility after a judge ruled in October that the case would be tried as a capital murder case.
In October’s pre-trial hearing, one witness testified that she saw the murder happen. She said Hinnant was in his driveway on his bike at the time when Sessoms ran over, put a gun against his head and pulled the trigger.
The community has since come together to remember him.
In July of 2021, a playground was renovated in Hinnant’s honor.
In August of 2021, one year after Hinnant’s death, about 100 people wore orange — his favorite color — and released lanterns into the sky over the park.
“Trying to adjust to life without Cannon, it has been hard,” Parker said at a vigil. “It has been hard on us. His sisters who witnessed this, they’ve been going through a really hard time, but remembering Cannon every single day and talking about him every day helps us.”