Security Engineering Guard's Murderer Convicted of 2003 Shooting

JASPER, Ala. -- A Tennessee man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of an Oakman security guard during a robbery.

Eric Jason Blankenship, 33, of Pocahontas, Tenn., was found guilty Thursday in the Oct. 11, 2003 shooting death of Clifford Moore, 59.

Jurors voted 8-4 in favor of life in prison without parole. The judge had the option of sentencing Blankenship to death, but he accepted the jury's recommended penalty.

Blankenship had pleaded guilty to capital murder, but a trial is still required in death penalty cases. Walker County District Attorney Charles Baker said the victim's family had agreed with the penalty.

A guard for Security Engineering, Moore was on duty at a dragline in Townley when he was shot twice in the head and killed. His 1978 Chevrolet Nova was taken from the scene and later left abandoned in Townley.

Moore's body was discovered by his shift replacement early Oct. 12.

Two other men charged with felony murder for their roles in the killing also pleaded guilty and were sentenced Thursday.

Travis Lynn Burkett, 39, of Jasper was sentenced to 22 years in prison, and Joseph Michael Stefanini, 40, of Panama City, Fla., was sentenced to 18 years.

Blankenship, Burkett and Stefanini, who were arrested in Mississippi, also face a number of multistate charges unrelated to Moore's death.

(c) 2005 Associated Press