Three days after he was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury, an eastern New Orleans man was sentenced Tuesday (Feb. 21) to spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tracey Marshall.
James Darby, 49, will serve the life sentence at hard labor with no benefit of probation, parole or suspended sentence. He executed Sgt. Marshall as she was returning to her Terrytown condominium on Dec. 13, 2015, after a date with another man. She was 47.
Sgt. Marshall ended the couple’s tumultuous 12-year romantic relationship on the month before she died. At the time, she was assigned to the JPSO bailiff squad at the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna. She was employed by the Sheriff’s Office for about 10 years.
In the weeks before he killed her, Darby stalked her and harassed her with text messages, according to trial evidence. On the night she died, he followed her as she was on a date that included dinner at a St. Charles Avenue restaurant. He followed her to her home, where he fired eight .45-caliber bullets at her as she sat in the driver’s seat of her truck, striking her five times. Her body was found the following morning.
A Jefferson Parish jury on Saturday deliberated less than 40 minutes in finding Darby guilty as charged of second-degree murder. He was returned to Judge Nancy Miller’s courtroom on Monday morning for his sentencing hearing, during which he said nothing to Sgt. Marshall’s parents and friends who were in the audience.
“I want to hate this person. I want to, but I don’t.” – Barbara George White, Sgt. Marshall’s mother
Before sentencing Darby, Judge Miller denied defense requests for a new trial and a post-verdict judgment of acquittal.
Sgt. Marshall’s mother, Barbara George White, provided impact testimony, tearfully recounting the grief she feels. “I want to thank everybody who tried to help her, and every day I can see her,” Mrs. White testified. “She was a good and decent and loving person.”
She said she thinks of her daughter often. “It’s been very difficult,” she testified. “I can hardly sleep. I go to work, and it helps me a little. But when I’m by myself, I see her. I love her. She was a very good and decent person. She didn’t deserve this. She wasn’t playing anybody. She was trying to get away from it. I couldn’t help her, because she didn’t tell me. I failed her in that.”
In handing down the sentence, Judge Miller told Darby that he robbed Mrs. White of her love for her daughter. And to the grieving mother, the judge said, “Ms. White, you did not fail your daughter. You raised her to be the person she was. And she was loved by everybody.”
Mrs. White, in her impact testimony, recalled the last family gathering two months before her daughter was murdered. Her family misses her, she said. “I won’t remember her for this. I will remember her for the person she was. I won’t let this be a label, because she was a really good person. I loved her, and her family loved her.”
Throughout her testimony, she spoke of Darby only in the third person. “I want to hate this person. I want to, but I don’t,” she testified, breaking into sobs.
Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Megan Gorman prosecuted the case.