Jury recommends 50 years for man who killed ex-girlfriend

A Fayette Circuit Court jury has recommended that Edward Stokley serve 50 years in prison for killing Lavena Gibson on April 29, 2009, and for being a persistent felony offender.

The recommendation came Wednesday afternoon after Stokley was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Gibson, 25. Stokley initially was charged with murder.

The jury acquitted him of three counts of wanton endangerment.

"We were happy that the jury rejected the murder charge and returned acquittals on the wanton-endangerment charges," defense attorney Tom Griffiths said. But he said he plans to appeal the manslaughter conviction.

Stokley, 35, who had an on-again, off-again relationship with Gibson, shot Gibson twice in the abdomen and twice in the left leg, witnesses and prosecutors said during the trial, which began Monday. The fatal shooting occurred when Gibson, who had decided to leave Stokley, returned to the home at 538 Bishop Drive that she shared with Stokley and his mother to retrieve her belongings.

According to witnesses, Stokley beat Gibson when she returned to the house. After Gibson broke free and fled to the car she had driven to the residence, Stokley followed and fired into the vehicle. Two friends, including April Brooks, who at one point had gone inside the house with a baseball bat to protect Gibson, and an 8-month-old infant were inside the vehicle when the shooting began.

Gibson died in surgery at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

Stokley did not deny shooting Gibson.

Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine set formal sentencing for Stokley for Jan. 7.