Murder convictions upheld for Southern Union campus shooter - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Murder convictions upheld for Southern Union campus shooter

(SOURCE: Opelika Police Department) (SOURCE: Opelika Police Department)
Thomas May being arrested as WSFA 12 News cameras roll Thomas May being arrested as WSFA 12 News cameras roll

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the capital murder and attempted murder convictions of Thomas Franklin May III on Friday.

May was convicted in March, 2014 of killing his mother-in-law, Brenda Watson, and attempting to kill estranged wife, Bethany Mitchell, on the campus of Southern Union State Community College in Opelika.

According to court documents, Mitchell was attending classes at Southern Union and did not have a vehicle. On April 6, 2011, Mitchell's mother, Watson, drove her van to the community college campus to pick Mitchell up. Also present in the van were Bethany Mitchell's grandmother, Maude Mitchell, and her 4-year-old daughter. 

After Mitchell got out of class, she was entering the van when May pulled up beside the vehicle and opened fire with a pistol. Mitchell testified in court that as May was shooting, he said she "can't keep [his] daughter from him." After the shooting, May fled the scene.

Bystanders at the campus began administering first aid to the occupants of the vehicle while others contacted authorities. 

Bethany Mitchell suffered several gunshots to her left arm and was treated at the East Alabama Medical Center. Maude Mitchell was airlifted to a nearby hospital where she was treated for her injuries. Mitchell's mother, Brenda Watson, was shot several times and died as a result of her wounds. 

May returned to the scene and was taken into custody. He gave detailed statement to police admitting to the shootings. In his confession, he stated he was upset that he was under a restraining order, which denied him access to his daughter.

May was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the capital murder conviction and an additional consecutive life in prison sentence for the attempted murder conviction. 

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