SOUTH FORSYTH -- A Forsyth County Superior Court judge has decided the fate of a south Forsyth man who was recently found guilty in the 2015 fatal shooting of his longtime girlfriend’s 25-year-old son.
Judge Philip C. Smith sentenced Frank Eugene Huffman, who was 57 at the time of his initial arrest, to life in prison with the possibility of parole Tuesday morning.
State law mandates that life —which is defined as 30 years in prison — be the minimum sentence in felony murder cases.
Should he live the next 30 years, Huffman will be at least 90 when he is eligible for parole.
A jury convicted Huffman on Sept. 29 of felony murder and aggravated assault in connection with a Jan. 7, 2015 fight that left James Tanner Conrad dead in a home on Quail Hollow Drive in south Forsyth.
Huffman was indicted in July and remained in custody since his arrest.
At the sentencing Tuesday, Conrad’s father, sister and mother each took the stand, reading personal statements largely directed at Huffman.
“You took the happiness and blood of this fine man from [our] hearts; you’re lucky a cage is where you’ll spend the rest of your life,” said Steve Conrad, Conrad’s father. “The death penalty is what you deserve.”
The victim’s mother, Sherry Conrad, also spoke to her former boyfriend.
“Now [Conrad] is gone, having been so violently and unnecessarily torn from us by you. You robbed us of this amazing man,” she said.
Huffman remained still through the testimonies, though he looked concerned as Sherry Conrad spoke.
Huffman had been living with the Conrads for 12 years when the shooting occurred, according to previous reports by the Forsyth County News.
After receiving reports of a domestic violence incident, deputies who responded to the scene reportedly found the young Conrad lying in the living room with a gunshot wound and immediately arrested Huffman.
Conrad’s mother apparently tried to break up the fight between the two men.In the process, she sustained a bruise to her head and was taken to North Fulton Hospital, where her son was also brought. He later succumbed to his injuries.
Alcohol was found to have played a role in the incident.
“It’s pretty clear from the evidence alcohol played a large role in the event on Jan. 7, 2015,” Judge Smith said. “The events [likely] would not have occurred before that alcohol consumption.”
According to the sheriff’s office, Huffman has lived in Forsyth County since at least 2006, when non-criminal documentation was recorded.
Other than a citation in 2011, he had no prior reported incidents with local law enforcement, which he emphasized on Tuesday.
“My heart goes out to the Conrad family,” Huffman said. “This was not a matter of rage; I never got upset, I never got angry. This was not out of anger; this was out of fear, confusion and total chaos. I have never been so angry that I’ve wanted to hurt anybody like that.”
Huffman retained John W. Rife as his attorney.