A 29-year-old Palestine man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to the brutal June 2006 murder of his long-time friend.

On Tuesday, Jeramy Lee Kennedy, 29, of Palestine pleaded guilty to the charge of murder and accepted the state’s offer of a 50-year sentence in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for stabbing 27-year-old Jerod Lee Evans to death on June 24, 2006.

Kennedy had been indicted on the charge of capital murder, but accepted the state’s offer of 50 years in prison to plead guilty to the lesser-included offense of murder, according to Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe.

On Wednesday at the Anderson County Courthouse, the murder victim’s mother and brother addressed Kennedy, making victim impact statements directed towards a man who was once considered a close family friend.

Choking back tears, Tamie Armstrong, the victim’s mother, told Kennedy, “You have taken away my (8-year-old) grandson’s father.

“I pray one day, Jeramy, you’ll see him again and you’ll show remorse for what you’ve done and Jerod will forgive you,” Armstrong told Kennedy.

Armstrong also spoke of the intense pain and suffering she has endured since her son’s murder.

“I wake up to it and I go to sleep to it,” Armstrong said. “Everybody (on the outside) thinks I’m doing so well.”

Barry Evans, the victim’s brother, told the convicted murderer, “You were like my brother...I won’t say I don’t hate you right now.”

While the victim’s loved ones addressed him, Kennedy, who was dressed in an Anderson County Jail jumpsuit, looked downward and appeared to cry softly.

On Tuesday, Kennedy had told the court that he and Evans had spent the hours preceding the murder using crack cocaine at the victim’s residence, according to Lowe.

At one point, the men began arguing and Kennedy ultimately struck Evans in the back of the head “with a blunt object” of some type, Lowe said the defendant told the court.

“He (then) got a kitchen knife and proceeded to stab him,” Lowe said.

Evans was found deceased inside his bloody Westwood residence on Ferguson Road during the early afternoon hours of June 24, 2006 by a relative, authorities have said.

Palestine Police Det. James Muniz said authorities believe Evans was murdered by Kennedy sometime after 3 a.m. that same day.

An autopsy performed on Evans’ body at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas showed he sustained a total of 57 sharp force injuries of the head, neck, upper chest, hands and left side of the chest.

One of the wounds penetrated 6 inches into the left side of Evans’ chest, perforating part of the lung and heart, according to the autopsy report.

During the commission of the murder, Kennedy also admitted to stealing Evans’ billfold which contained a small amount of money, authorities have said. He told police he discarded the murder weapon in a creek on Harcrow Road and the billfold in Wolf Creek Lake, but neither have been recovered.

Following an extensive 9 1/2-month investigation, Kennedy was arrested in early April and charged with capital murder in connection with Evans’ death.

In late October, the state indicated it would not seek the death penalty against Kennedy.

“He’s (Kennedy) going to do 50 (years),” Lowe said Wednesday. “He’ll have to do half (25 years) before he’s even eligible for parole...We felt it was a just sentence. Echoing the sentiments of the family, it’s a tragedy since these men were best friends for many years.”

Kennedy was represented by local defense attorney Steve Evans.

Muniz and Palestine Police Det. Nick Webb investigated Evans’ murder, with assistance from Texas Ranger Sgt. Rudy Flores.

Kennedy has previously spent time in the TDCJ, receiving a five-year sentence for burglary of a habitation in Anderson County during the mid-to-late 1990s.

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Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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