ATLANTA — An Uber Eats driver who shot and killed a customer he said threatened him will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Robert Bivines shot Ryan Thornton as he made a delivery Feb. 17. Thornton was a 30-year-old graduate of Morehouse University. Bivines claimed that Thornton threatened him, which led him to shoot him multiple times in self-defense.
On Friday, Bivines was found guilty of malice murder, aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon. The jury took less than three hours to deliberate.
Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes was in the courtroom as Bivines was put in handcuffs. The judge sentenced him to life in prison plus five years after Thornton's fiance, Jerica Jones and several family members asked for the maximum sentence.
Jones was with Thornton on the night he was killed. Bivines was delivering food to their Buckhead condo and refused to bring the food upstairs. When Thornton went down to get it, he never came back up.
Bivins shot him four times and left the scene.
Jones was the first to address the court after the verdict was read. She said that she doesn't believe in the death penalty and asked for Bivines to serve his full term.
"This has been overwhelming, but at the end of the day I don't really believe in the death penalty," Jones said "(Bivines) took a lifetime from me, a future family... I can only ask that Robert Bivines serve every day for every year of every count he was charged with."
The jury in the Uber Eats murder trial has a verdict. Before we hear it, Fiancé of the victim Ryan Thornton begs the judge to sentence the suspect to the maximum time in prison for shooting & killing Thornton on 2/17. pic.twitter.com/zukGB0xXqj
— Tyisha Fernandes (@TyishaWSB) November 16, 2018
Jones went on to say how much losing her fiance has devastated her.
“I lost something very, very special to me. And I will never get that back," Jones said. "Every day, I woke up to somebody who really loved me, and I loved him too. And that was taken away."
Thornton's family members have been in the courtroom for all four days of the trial and were furious he was trying to convince the jury the shooting was self-defense.
Thornton's uncle also asked the judge to never let Bivines out of prison.
Bivins initially declined to address the court or the family but then spoke after the judge gave him another chance.
"I just want to apologize for everything that occurred. To the family, to the court," Bivins said. "I know my words are useless, so I'm at a loss for words."
When the judge asked Bivines what possessed him to carry a loaded gun with him at all times, Bivines claimed it was for protection.
"Your honor, I've been carrying a gun since I got out of the military," Bivines said. "I have been shot at and the people who shot at me you know, got away."
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Police said Thornton ordered food from Uber Eats and the driver delivered the food around 11:30 p.m. At some point, authorities said words were exchanged between Thornton and the driver.
Thornton died at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Bivines' attorney, Jackie Patterson, argued that it was a case of self-defense.
"This is a case where my client had no choice but to defend himself," he said.
Patterson said Thornton was irate that it took a while for his food to arrive. He said Thornton was aggressive and as Bivines walked away, Thornton made a threatening move.
"He turned around, put his hand in his pocket and said, 'I'm going to (bleep) you up,'" Patterson said.
Patterson said Bivines was afraid to wait to see what Thornton had in his pocket so he said he defended himself.
Bivines had only worked as an Uber Eats driver for a week. Uber has a "no weapons" policy for its drivers.
Cox Media Group