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Gainesville man sentenced to life in prison for murder in drug deal
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Roger Tapia stands by as Michael Parr places handcuffs on Leshan Tanner after the guilty verdict was read Thursday at Tanner’s murder trial in Hall County Superior Court. - photo by Erin O. Smith

When Leshan Tanner closes his eyes at night, Mary Huff told him her son “will haunt you for the rest of your life” in Superior Court Thursday night.

Mary Huff, the mother of Cedric Antonio Huff, spoke directly to Tanner, 42, of Gainesville, after he was found guilty of felony murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and attempt to purchase marijuana. He received a life prison sentence.

Tanner was acquitted on two other felony murder charges and a count of robbery related to a drug deal and the shooting of Cedric Huff on June 5, 2014.

Huff succumbed to his injuries at the hospital June 21, 2014.

“I just want you to know his kids will never be the same again and neither will your kids,” Mary Huff said. “You’ve hurt two families.”

The jury returned with the verdict shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday after entering deliberations around 2:30 p.m. that same day.

Assistant District Attorney Juliet Aldridge informed the court of Tanner’s prior convictions and asked for the life prison sentence for the felony murder.

Rodnie Maurice Stokes, 27, who is Tanner’s former co-defendant, agreed to a non-negotiated plea Sept. 9 and told his version of events to the court. A similar deal was offered to Tanner, Aldridge said.

“Mr. Stokes was then offered that same opportunity to tell the truth, and he took that opportunity,” she said.

As a result, Stokes pleaded guilty to an amended charge of voluntary manslaughter instead of felony murder and ended with a 40-year sentence. He is expected to serve 20 years in prison.

Stokes said Tanner also entered Huff’s apartment with a gun and that Tanner’s gun went off, Aldridge said. Tanner’s defense told the court that Stokes acted without his prior knowledge and that he was “duped.”

Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller imposed a sentence of life in prison for the felony murder count.

“Although it is a mandatory, statutory sentence, the court finds that under the facts of this case to be a most appropriate sentence,” Fuller said.

The counts related to attempt to purchase marijuana and conspiracy to commit robbery resulted in a 10-year sentence to run concurrently with the life prison sentence.