Abilene man sentenced to 67 years for 2015 murder

John Atkins

An Abilene man convicted of murder in the 2015 shooting death of a woman was sentenced to 67 years in prison.

John Atkins, 53, faced anywhere from 25 years to life in prison.

On Thursday, a jury found him guilty of killing 39-year-old Latisha Hilley. Her body was found behind an abandoned north Abilene home in July 2015.

Police found a gun in Atkins’ vehicle, which was believed to be the murder weapon.

During the sentencing phase, several witnesses took the stand on Friday, including Hilley’s younger sister and Atkins’ ex-wife.

Before the judge read the sentence, he asked Atkins whether he had anything else to say. Atkins claimed he was only a witness to the murder and that the real killer is still out there.

Hilley’s family said they have been waiting two and a half years for a sentence.

"I'm just proud that it's all done and over with after nearly three years, we finally got to go to trial and get her case rested so she can rest in peace," Hilley’s mother, Doris Bracy, said.

During sentencing, Hilley’s daughter Samantha said with tears in her eyes that her mom won't be there for her graduation because Atkins took that away from her.

"It really hurt,” Samantha Hilley said. “Especially knowing that I’m in the position that I’m in. Having somebody kill my mom and having to go through it every day for the rest of my life, it's just too much to go through."

Hilley's mother said she and her family are glad Atkins will be locked up for a long time.

“I hope no mother ever has to go through this again,” Barcy said. “I just pray to God."

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off