Family has closure after man is sentenced for cold case murder

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - A man is sentenced in a Birmingham cold case, and the victim's family said they finally have closure.

Antonio Ross was sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing Emmett Ray Owens outside his Ensley home 22 years ago.

Owens' family members were in the courtroom to hear the sentencing, and said they felt relieved. They also praised Birmingham detectives for their work on the case.

Before the sentencing, Owens' daughter, Martha Owens Smith, addressed the courtroom and Ross. She spoke about her father, and said it was tragic his life ended at the age of 78.

"He was a gentle, good, and kind man," said Smith," He was a wonderful Dad. We loved him very much. We still miss him and think about him."

On the evening of July 19, 1987, Owens was walking from his car to his Ensley home.

Sixteen year-old Ross attacked him and beat him to death. Initially, leads on the case ran cold, but Detective Jody Jacobs with the Birmingham Police Department's Cold Case Unit started investigating the case again two years ago. He said it is great to see all the hard work pay off.

"It gave me a sense of what we are doing matters," said Det. Jacobs, "I'm happy for the family, and hope this will bring some closure to them."