On Wednesday, a judge sentenced James Worley to death in the 2016 murder of 20-year-old college student Sierah Joughin. Before the judge made his decision, Worley threw what amounted to a Hail Mary pass, basically re-litigating his entire case for over 30 minutes for the people in the gallery. Promising an appeal, he said he was innocent.
“There’s more going on than meets the eye,” he said towards the end of his speech.
“I am not the guy who did this,” he later said, adding that he had a “wholesome” family, and that his friends who supported him are not “crackpots and freaks.”
He blamed media coverage for painting him in a bad light.
“Sierah was a beautiful girl. Don’t asked me why she wasn’t raped,” #JamesWorley addressees Sierah’s mother, aunt, boyfriend family & it becomes too much. Many leave the courtroom in tears. Worley says an unknown man kidnapped the college student,broke into his barn,set him up.
— Toi Creel (@ToiCreel) April 18, 2018
A jury in Fulton County, Ohio found Worley guilty on March 27, and they recommended the death penalty.
Prosecutors said Joughin went missing after a bike ride with her boyfriend on July 19, 2016. Investigators first discovered her abandoned bicycle in a cornfield near a motorcycle helmet, blood stains, and signs of a struggle. They then found her in a shallow grave with her hands tied behind her back. The autopsy determined she had passed away from asphyxiation due to a gag on her mouth.
Worley previously served a prison sentence for abducting Robin Gardner in 1990. Now 54, Gardner testified at the Joughin murder trial.
“He says get in the truck or I’m going to kill you,” she said about her own experience with Worley.
The judge recommended an execution date of June 3rd, 2019.
Virginia Warner contributed to this report.
[Screengrab via WTOL]