Delaware family chooses message of forgiveness as father's killer gets life in prison



Maddy Lauria - Delaware Online


Corey Bailey’s shooting death in 2018 left his big family with holes in their hearts, but as his killer was sentenced to life behind bars for the murder, the family chose a message of forgiveness instead of hatred.

“I know that’s what he wanted,” said his daughter Lexus Bailey, who wore a T-shirt with the words “RIP Daddy” and photos of her father with his family, to Sussex County’s courthouse Friday.

“I’m just learning to let go,” said the 23-year-old, who is one of five children Bailey left behind. “I don’t think justice will replace his life. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. But [nothing is] that serious. Let it go. Just put the guns down.”

Bridgeville resident Mcarthur Risper Jr., also a father of five, was sentenced to life in prison plus another 30 years for first-degree murder, conspiracy and firearms charges after a jury found him guilty of the crimes in November.


In the evening hours of May 11, 2018, two men arrived in a dark-colored Jeep Cherokee SUV at Mill Park Drive in Bridgeville and confronted Bailey, 41, in the roadway, according to witness statements. They both fired at Bailey, striking him multiple times, according to court documents.

Bailey, 41, was found that night on the side of the road by police and was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, as previously reported by Delaware Online/The News Journal.

Risper turned himself in to police a few days later, after he had been identified as a possible suspect in the fatal shooting. During Friday’s sentencing, attorneys said Risper and those involved wore masks as they carried out the crime.

No one else has been charged in connection with the killing, state police said. It's unclear if police are still searching for additional suspects in this case.

Risper, now 30 years old, declined to speak during his sentencing Friday morning.


Sussex County Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley sentenced Risper to the maximum allowable sentence, calling the shooting “a planned out, cold-blooded killing.” The life in prison sentence for murder has no option for parole, probation or early release, Bradley said.


Bailey’s aunt, Vanessa Bailey, spoke briefly about her nephew “Coco” as she addressed the court Friday morning, describing him “like a magnet” who attracted friends, family and neighborhood kids to his side to play and laugh. Some of Bailey’s family quietly wept as she spoke.

“Today is a sad day because two families have been ripped apart,” she said. “He was no saint, but his good definitely outweighed his bad.”

She also had some words for Risper, who had a close relationship with the family before a dispute over guns, money and drugs led to Bailey’s killing in May 2018.

“He loved you like a brother,” Vanessa Bailey said. “He always said he’d die for you. We don’t hate you because of what you did. That’s what we hate: what you did.”


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