ALBANY, N.Y. – A 33-year-old Albany man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole for shooting three people in the head after a night of drinking and smoking marijuana.
Jovan Underdue killed his 26-year-old friend Bobby Jones, 25-year-old Victor Anderson and 16-year-old Keynon Hankins in an apartment building near the state Capitol. He was convicted last month of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of criminal possession of a weapon.
Families of the victims cried as they read statements during the sentencing in Albany County Court, where Judge Stephen Herrick handed down the maximum sentence. Underdue was given an additional 15-year sentence on the weapon charge.
Kihra Hankins, Jones' girlfriend and Hankins' sister, called Underdue "phony, hateful, sneaky."
She found the bodies on Jan. 30, 2008, when she returned home from work in the morning. Her 3-year-old son with Jones was sleeping in another room at the time of the shootings.
"Jovan, we brought you into our home, gave you a family; our friends trusted you. Because we trusted and loved you," said Jones' mother, Cherry Jones. "He (Bobby) gave you a place to live, food, money, bought you clothes. He even went against his family and friends for you because ... well, his exact words were, 'I'm all he has."'
Underdue was charged after police said he confessed he "just lost control" and "took three lives." During the trial, defense attorney Lee Kindlon contended the confession was forced. Underdue did not testify.
Prosecutors also pointed to blood found on Underdue's T-shirt that matched Jones' DNA as well as a .38-caliber handgun found under his girlfriend's mattress with three bullets fired.
Two of the victims' driver's licenses were found at Underdue's home, and a surveillance video caught him walking near the crime scene.
Kindlon maintains that police took Underdue's statement without reading him his rights and that it should not have been allowed as evidence. He said he plans to appeal.
"In a situation like this, obviously we have compassion for the victims' families, but that is tempered with our need to demonstrate that Jovan was unfairly charged and convicted with these crimes," he said. "I think it was a very tough day for everyone in that courtroom."
The killings were the first triple homicide in Albany in more than 13 years.