An Albemarle County man convicted in March of first-degree murder for shooting his ex-girlfriend three times in the head outside of her home was sentenced Monday to life in prison for the killing, plus eight years for firearms violations.
An Albemarle County jury convicted Cardian Omar Eubanks, 35, of killing Amanda Bates and recommended a life sentence. Judge Cheryl Higgins on Monday formally sentenced Eubanks to life, despite a motion to dismiss the jury’s recommended sentence filed by Michael Hallahan, Eubanks’ attorney.
Eubanks’ and Bates’ families grew up together and are close. That made for an emotional mix during the trial and at the sentencing hearing, as both sides tried to comfort each other. Before sentencing, Eubanks told Higgins he understood how Bates’ killing impacted both families.
“This has really affected me and this has affected [the families], as well,” he said with emotion. “I have to live with that every day. All I can do is ask for a fair sentence.”
In asking Higgins to disregard the jury’s sentence recommendation, Hallahan said the jury was not presented sufficient evidence to reach a first-degree murder conviction because most of the evidence was circumstantial and was not expressly evidence of premeditation.
Hallahan sought a sentence of 30 years, noting that Eubanks’ previous firearms convictions were for a non-violent felon possessing a handgun.
“We’re asking the court to impose a number of years around the middle of the sentencing guidelines, about 30 years,” Hallahan told Higgins. “That would put [Eubanks] in his mid-60s when he was released.”
Hallahan noted that Eubanks had six children. Release after 30 years would allow him to get to know them.
Albemarle Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Galloway said Eubanks should receive the sentence recommended by the jury.
“There is nothing the court can do to bring [Bates] back. This is a horrific tragedy, and there’s nothing that can fill the void she left,” Galloway said. “The only thing we can do is hold the person accountable who took Ms. Bates’ life.”
Higgins denied both of Hallahan’s motions on Eubanks’ behalf. She noted that testimony showed Bates was seated in the driver’s seat of her vehicle at her residence when she was slain and that Bates had ended her relationship with Eubanks and that he had moved out of their residence a month prior.
Higgins said testimony at the trial showed that Eubanks had waited at a convenience store for Bates to drive by and followed her home, that Bates’ family had unloaded groceries and was waiting for her to come in and help cook dinner while she talked to Eubanks.
“There was no yelling. There was no loud argument that preceded this. There’s nothing in this case that indicates some sort of misunderstanding or self-defense motive,” Higgins said. “Her father was there, kids were there and Mr. Eubanks knew this. He still made the decision to shoot her three times in the head. That’s just a cold-blooded thing to do to a mother, to someone who has done nothing to provoke him.”
Higgins sentenced Eubanks to life in prison for Bates’ murder plus three years for using a firearm to commit a felony and five years for being a felon in possession of a handgun.
Should he be released for any reason, Higgins also required Eubanks serve three years of post-release supervision.