Stringer gets life for ’98 murder

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 8, 2000

Staff Writer

Deiallo Teron Stringer was sentenced to life in prison for killing an 18-year-old Troy State University student more than two years ago.

The 25-year-old man, found guilty of murdering Komommo Oju Offem of Tuskegee by a Pike County jury last month, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Thomas Head Friday morning after he listened to witnesses talk about what kind of man Stringer is.

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Prior to handing down the sentence, Head told Stringer, "I think your remorse is (because) you got caught."

He said his decision was meant to send a message that "the justice system in Pike County values human life."

Head also said Stringer had already received a "major break" by not being found guilty of capital murder since the fatal shot was fired from a vehicle.

In addition to the life sentence ­ with a chance of parole ­ Head ordered Stringer to pay $8,859.61 in restitution.

"I believe the sentence was justified," Assistant District Attorney Larry Jarrell said after the hearing, adding the Offem family was "satisfied" with it.

"Regardless of the sentence, the loss is still great," Jarrell said of Offem’s death.

He said the sentence should send a message that such crimes committed in Pike County "will not be tolerated."

While speaking on behalf of his client, defense attorney Randy Arnold said Stringer "doesn’t believe he shot the fatal shot" and he believes the convicted murderer "has learned from this tragedy."

He also said no matter what the sentence is, nothing can change the fact someone is dead.

Wearing the white of a Pike County Jail inmate, handcuffs and shackles, Stringer heard what friends and family members had to say about his character, as well as what kind of justice the Offem family wanted before the judge handed down the sentence.

"He’s a gentle, caring person," said Stringer’s aunt, Calinda Long.

She said what happened in the early morning of March 6, 1998 was out of character for the man she considers an "authority figure" for her daughter.

Long described her nephew as one who "tries to stay away from trouble.

"He’s got a lot to offer," Long said. "He’s a really good person. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Long said Stringer has been "remorseful" about the killing during conversations they’ve had since the incident.

Stringer’s father said he couldn’t comment as to whether his son has learned from his mistake.

He said he taught his son to take responsibility for his actions and to tell the truth.

"I will always feel like he told the truth," he said of his son’s admission to firing the pistol, but denial of intent to kill Offem.

"He can’t lean on me. He has to lean on God in this situation," he said. "I think he has no opportunity but to learn from his mistake."

The father, who will now see his son go to prison, expressed condolences to the Offems and even hugged the victim’s parents after stepping down from the stand.

"I’m sorry," he said in hushed tones to Offem’s mother.

When he took the stand, Stringer said he realizes his actions that night were "stupid," but that he didn’t intend to kill anyone.

"Ever since that night, I didn’t want to be involved with anything like that again," Stringer said.

He said he will "make the most of a bad situation" while he’s in the penitentiary.

Monday Offem, the victim’s father, read a statement he’d prepared.

He said the 18-year-old whose name means "peace" died because of an "irresponsible, careless act.

"He was a kind, loving, decent human being who didn’t deserve" the fate he came to.

Of the man going to prison because he murdered his son, Offem said "he has his life…his plans. Our son no longer has his life."

Stringer was found to be the one who fired the shot that struck Offem in the right temple at approximately 1:44 a.m. outside New Image ­ also known as E.T.’s Lounge ­ on U.S. 231 South between Troy and Brundidge.

During his trial, Stringer admitted to firing a 22-caliber chrome-colored pistol from the open window of his green Chevrolet Blazer, but had no intention of shooting Offem, who he didn’t even know.

That point was made by Head just before he announced the sentence.

"I do not take lightly what I do as a judge," Head said to Stringer, who was standing before the bench.

"None of this makes sense," Head said, pointing out Stringer was out on parole on a breaking and entering a motor vehicle in Mobile when the shooting occurred, "Yet, you were riding around with a gun."

It only took a jury 45 minutes on Sept. 14 to find Stringer guilty of the shooting death of Offem, who was a student at Troy State University when he died.