MILWAUKEE -- A 60-year-old Milwaukee man convicted of fatally stabbing his longtime girlfriend will spend nearly three decades in prison. A Milwaukee County judge sentenced Jimmy Bates on Friday, Feb. 8 to 28 years in prison and another 12 years of extended supervision in the fatal stabbing of Debra Luckett. Bates must also pay restitution to the crime victim compensation fund.
At the start of his jury trial in December, 2018, Bates made a last-minute decision to plead guilty to first-degree reckless homicide in a deal with prosecutors. To this day, Bates has never commented on what actually happened the night of the murder, nor explained why he did it.
Despite having no previous criminal record, prosecutors say Bates killed his 52-year-old girlfriend near 70th and Lima, then tried to cover up the crime by sending text messages to her concerned loved ones.
"That she'd taken the dog and gone to a friend's house. But she hadn't taken the dog to a friend's house, she was dead in her bedroom," said Karl Hayes, prosecutor.
Family members discovered her body on May 16, 2018 after not hearing from her for 24 hours. Bates, who lived at the house and had been dating Luckett for years, was nowhere to be found. It wouldn't be until Aug. 26 that officers arrested him while on the street, panhandling.
"I think something just snapped on him that day, your honor. But he has taken responsibility," said Reyna Morales, Bates' attorney.
The state has a different story, arguing Bates convinced himself Luckett was having an affair.
"These are the behaviors of a sociopath," said Hayes. "I think that the defendant was worked up into a state of homicidal rage based on a jealously that was a complete fantasy in his own head."
While Bates declined to address the judge, he told the court reporter he deserved a second chance.
"I guess I don't understand the concept of a second chance in a case like this," said Milwaukee County Judge Jeffrey Wagner.
The details of the case are equally puzzling and painful for the victim's family.
"To me, he should have shown some remorse and he didn't. It was like it was a game," said Lisa Luckett, victim's sister.
"This is all we have of her. We can't call her, we can't talk to her," said Alexis Luckett, victim's daughter.
While it's not the closure they hoped for, Luckett's three children and sister say they're ready to move on and focus on the positive memories.
"She was loved by everybody," said Alexis Luckett.
His attorney said Friday, Bates suffers from several medical conditions and will almost certainly die in prison.