After pleading guilty, the man was asked if he wanted to apologize to his family. He refused.
An Ohio man accused of decapitating his mother and setting fire to the woman's body -- as a six-year-old relative watched -- was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.
In court this week, Lionel Justin Gore pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder -- waiving the right to a jury trial -- in the brutal slaying of Diane Gore in November 2021. He was originally indicted on four counts of Aggravated Arson, three counts of Endangering Children in the third degree, one count of Tampering with Evidence in the third degree, and one count of Abuse of a Corpse -- and, in December 2021, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity before a psychological evaluation.
He changed his plea this week and the additional charges against him were dropped.
On November 5, 2021, officers responded to a call about a fire in New Matamora, Ohio at the home of Diane Gore. The victim's sister was there and reportedly told police she saw Lionel exit the home "covered in blood," before he threatened her to get away from him or he would "kill [her] next." Lionel's 6-year-old nephew also told police he saw his uncle "sawing" Diane's neck with two different knives before setting the house ablaze with the child still inside.
In court Thursday, per WTAP, prosecutor Nicole Coil said "it's a miracle that the six year old was able to get himself and the other two toddlers out of the home before it burned and they lost their lives as well."
Following a car chase, Gore was apprehended and allegedly told police he "cut [his mother's] head off and set her on fire" because the Holy Spirit told him to, because she was the devil.
In court Thursday, family members read emotional statements to Lionel -- who appeared via video -- and the judge. One of them read a letter from the child who witnessed the decapitation. "Will you ask him to please keep him in jail so we can be safe? Ask him to do it for me. Please," it said.
One family member said, "You took our sister's life. Her fear was always that you would kill her and she was right. You murdered her and you ended her" -- as another added, "You tore my mother apart. You tore our family apart. Do you have any shame, Lionel?"
When the judge asked Gore whether he wanted to apologize, he reportedly refused.
He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.