Two Plead Guilty in 2011 Murder of Disabled Man

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Two men were sentenced this week after pleading guilty to the 2011 murder of Eddie Bankhead in Columbus, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Omar Beard, 35, of Columbus

Cortez Williams, 34, of Cahokia, Illinois

Omar Beard, 35, of Columbus, pleaded guilty Tuesday to manslaughter. He will serve 20 years in prison and be eligible for parole after 10 years. Cortez Williams, 34, of Cahokia, Illinois, pleaded guilty Friday to depraved heart murder. He was also sentenced to 20 years in prison, which will run day-for-day. Both men’s sentences will receive credit for time already served. They have both been in prison since 2011. Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Lee Coleman sentenced both men.

The men assisted 41-year-old Derrick Bankhead in the robbery and murder of Bankhead’s cousin, Eddie, on July 11, 2011. Derrick was the mastermind of the plan, while Beard assisted in robbery and Williams committed the murder by shooting Eddie. Both Beard and Williams had weapons. Eddie Bankhead was handicapped and wheelchair-bound. Derrick is currently serving a life sentence for capital murder for his role in this murder. He was sentenced in August.

“Killing another person is as evil as it gets, but when the victim is disabled and defenseless, there is an entirely different element of evil in that,” General Hood said. “I hope Eddie Bankhead’s family finds peace in knowing these criminals are locked up. I thank Judge Coleman for making that happen.”

This case was investigated by AG Investigator Lee McDivitt and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Patrick Beasley and Lakeita Rox-Love. The case was assigned to the Attorney General’s Office after the local district attorney recused himself due to a conflict of interest.