Election opponent found guilty in murder of state senator

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A man prosecutors said was consumed by a thirst for political power was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of his election opponent, a popular state senator.

A man prosecutors said was consumed by a thirst for political power was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of his election opponent, a popular state senator.

Byron (Low Tax) Looper, 35, was sentenced Wednesday for killing state Sen. Tommy Burks, the clear favorite to win the 1998 election in Crossville, Tennessee.

The Burks family had asked prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.

In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutor Tony Craighead said Looper killed Burks because he wanted his power and position.

Burks, 58, was shot once in the head at his hog and tobacco farm on Oct. 19, 1998. He was sitting in pickup truck on a gravel road near a pumpkin patch where he planned to take schoolchildren on a hayride.

District Attorney Bill Gibson said there was no doubt Looper was the killer.

"He didn't leave DNA at the scene. He left a bullet at the scene. He left tire tracks at the scene. He left an impression of who he was on a young man (farmhand Wesley Rex) at the scene," he said.

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