SHELBY Tina Shell on Tuesday faced the man convicted of raping and murdering her grandmother Margaret Tessneer in 2003, telling him it was pure evilness what you did that day.
Shortly before Donald Borders was sentenced to life in prison without parole, he looked on without expression as Shell described Tessneer as an amazing lady who was loved by so many people.
It breaks my heart to know somebody would do something so cruel, she said.
Borders was back in court Tuesday for sentencing after a Cleveland County jury found him guilty Monday of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and felonious breaking and entering.
Superior Court Judge Richard Boner imposed a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Borders lawyer, David Teddy, said the defendant will appeal.
When Boner asked Borders, 54, of Cherryville, if he had anything to say, his reply was, No, your honor.
Teddy told the court Borders had been a star football player at Cherryville High School, a bus driver and an accomplished student.
Describing the trial as long and difficult, Teddy said he had been impressed by the composure and dignity of the Tessneer family. He was also impressed that the Tessneers and Borders families stood in the courtroom after Mondays verdict and embraced each other.
Boner called the coming together a wonderful thing to behold.
I hope all of you may heal today, he told the families.
A chapter closed
Before the sentencing, Shell and Assistant District Attorney Sally Kirby-Turner approached Borders, who was seated.
Speaking in a voice filled with emotion, Shell told Borders her grandmother was not just some elderly lady who lived alone.
The mother of three children, Tessneer was a caring person who went to nursing homes every Friday to visit friends, said Shell, adding: People counted on her.
Shell said her family was hurting and so was Borders family.
Weve gotten to know your family, she said. Theyre good people who care about you.
Shell told Borders shes prayed that hell be truly sorry for what he did and ask for forgiveness. While she knew hed get justice in the courtroom on Tuesday Shell said: When you stand before God I hope youll be ready.
Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford said that the Borders trial has closed a chapter, but the book remains open on the other two cases.
The deaths of Lottie Ledford, 85, and Lillian Mullinax are listed as natural in autopsy reports. But the family of one of the deceased believes she was suffocated.
Jeff Ledford, who is unrelated to Lottie Ledford, said both cases are still considered cold cases. While investigators have looked for a link between these cases and Borders, so far, its not there, Ledford said.
Capt. Rick Stafford with the Shelby police criminal investigations unit said investigators will meet soon with officers who testified in the Borders trial to see if some detail or piece of evidence might shed new light on the cold cases.
A reinvestigation in 2009 led to Borders being charged in the Tessneer case.
As new investigators come on board in the department, youve got a new set of eyes and different perspectives, Stafford said. This is something well never put on the back burner per se. Families want answers.
You cant forget
After Borders sentencing, Tommy Clark reflected on a 10-year journey that began with the death of his wifes mother, Margaret Tessneer, on Sept. 20, 2003. The Clarks discovered Tessneers body that day.
About a month later, Tommy Clark met Bobby Fisher, who was convinced that his aunt, Lottie Ledford, had been suffocated in her home in August.
The men spoke almost daily and followed up on every lead in the deaths of their relatives.
We both stayed on it, Clark said. He thought the same man did it all.
Fisher died of heart failure in 2005 at age 56.
In the Borders trial, Clark said prosecutor Kirby-Turner did a great job.
I think Bobby Fisher is looking down from heaven and is pleased, Clark said.
As he left the courthouse, Clark said a guilty verdict has brought the family some peace, but the whole experience lingers in their memories.
You cant ever forget it, he said.