SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A judge’s son will spend the rest of his life in prison after accepting a plea deal in a 2021 murder.
Sam Rich agreed to a 99-year sentence in the murder of Will Warner after he was previously sentenced to 59 years for shooting Gracie Perryman in 2021. The sentences will be served concurrently with no possibility for parole.
As part of the deal, Rich pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a 50-year sentence and to especially aggravated robbery with a 49-year sentence.
It was an emotional day in court for the Warner family as they read victim impact statements before Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” Will’s father, James Warner, cried from the witness stand, saying Sam executed a young, loving farmer.
The heartache has been unbearable for Will’s parents. Their 22-year-old son was shot four times and left on the side of the road in West Nashville.
“I never got to see my child or say goodbye to him, because of the condition his body was in when he was found,” Christy Warner cried. “Talk about a mother’s worst nightmare.”
“The next worse thing to losing a child is watching a mother deal with it, watching her cry herself to sleep for the next two years, watching her stare at his pictures, and watching her sit in the graveyard and cry until she can’t breathe no more,” James added while crying.
The parent’s testimony moved most people the courtroom to tears, while Rich smirked and smiled, showing no remorse for his admitted actions.
“It’s sad that somebody’s that evil and it’s really a sad, sad world that we live in to see someone who can murder someone and laugh about it,” Christy told News 2 following the hearing.
Rich winked at his family in the front row as prosecutors said evidence would show Rich was on parole at the time of the shooting for breaking into Will’s home and plotted to kill Will, blaming him for being behind bars.
After the killing, investigators said Rich went to Will’s home in Shelbyville where he had planned to steal money. Those plans were botched when Will’s former girlfriend, Perryman, walked in and Rich shot her in the face. Rich was previously sentenced to 59 years in Bedford County for the attempted murder of Perryman.
The Warners had originally wanted to seek the death penalty for their son’s murder.
“At first we were all about the death penalty and then we wanted nothing less than that, but after going over some the results of some of the trials that have been through the death penalty, we felt like that he would get too many privileges and that there was a possibility that it could be overturned. So we felt like this was our safest and our best route to guarantee that he stayed in prison forever,” Christy explained.
The Warner family was satisfied with the agreement, saying they will continue praying for Rich as they look to heal their family from this tragedy.
“We are just ready to try and get some of this pain off of us, and now we can be satisfied that justice has been served and he’s not going to hurt any innocent people anymore. He’s done and it’s such a shame that two young men both lost their lives, it’s just such a shame. Nothing will ever bring Will back and, you know, we’ve had to accept that, but this has definitely been a big day for us and we are so glad to finally put this behind us,” James said.
The Warners said they know a higher power will ultimately take care of the man that killed their son.
“In the end, God will take care of Sam,” Christy said.
Rich’s father, Bedford County General Sessions Court Judge Charles L. Rich, didn’t want to comment following the hearing.