Edward Island mug.jpg

Edward Robert Island III

LIVINGSTON — A Walker man who shot and killed his mother at age 17 was sentenced Monday to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. 

The order came after Edward Robert Island III pleaded no contest to second-degree murder before 21st Judicial District Judge M. Douglas Hughes at the Livingston Parish Courthouse. 

Island, 21, is accused of fatally shooting his mother, Tamila Wooley, 34, at their Village Maison town home on Dec. 30, 2013 and leaving her body in the bedroom until she was found by a family friend on New Year's Day. 

After her death, the Walker High School junior drove her car and visited with friends, said Walker Police Capt. John Sharp. Island came home periodically to feed his two young siblings — a boy, then 11, and a girl, then 2 — who were told their mother was sick in bed and not to be disturbed, Sharp said. 

Island, who was arrested during a traffic stop on Jan. 2, 2014 , has been in jail since then, Sharp said. 

In an interview with police, Island admitted to killing his mom with a borrowed 12-gauge Winchester pump shotgun, said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Belser. Forensic scientists also found his prints on a gun in his room, according to court records.

But authorities never landed on a clear motive, Belser said. During the confession, Island said he killed his mom because she would not let him borrow the car to play basketball with friends, the prosecutor said.

A letter to the judge filed in the court record suggests a different motive from Island — to stop her from from physically abusing him. 

"I'm not a bad person. I just made a bad mistake," he wrote. "My mother did some horrible things to me. I don't like to talk about. I have the scars to prove it."

In the same letter, Island says he feels remorse for the crime. 

"My mother is gone because of me. It really is hard for me right now. I miss my mother everyday," he wrote.

Belser said his office was unable to corroborate Island's claims of abuse. 

Island's public defender, Timothy Fondren, said the defendant's siblings now live out-of-state with family. No one attended the hearing on behalf of Island, who is originally from California. 

As the crime occurred when he was still a juvenile, Island falls under a U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits life without parole sentences to the "worst of the worst" offenders. 

Belser said he recommended the sentence given, as he did not think Island fit the life-without-parole criteria. Island has been a model inmate at the jail and has no prior criminal history, he said. 

Island will be eligible for parole in 25 years and Belser recommended to the judge for Island to take part in job training and re-entry court, which could further shorten his prison term. 

"There's still that possibility of a life sentence," Belser told The Advocate. "But the onus is on him to make something of it."

Fondren said after court that Island aspires to become a barber. 

"It was a sad case all the way around," Fondren said. "Hopefully, he'll be able to achieve those goals up there (at Angola)."

Follow Caroline Grueskin on Twitter, @cgrueskin.