UPDATE: Teen sentenced to 6 months of open custody in death of Lecent Ross
Pastor Keaton Austin says Lecent Ross' family is not happy with the sentence handed down today against a 15-year-old boy pic.twitter.com/9R5V0eiJQn— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) March 3, 2017
When a justice sentenced a 15-year-old boy for another six months of open custody for the shooting death of Lecent Ross, he admitted in court he suspects that will not be enough.
14-year-old Ross was killed when a gun was accidentally discharged in her friend's home in Jamestown on July 9, 2015.
The friend, who was 13 at the time, had obtained the gun illegally for protection in a "dangerous neighbourhood," according to his lawyer John Erickson. The teen boy cannot be identified because he is a youth.
Erickson says his client didn't know the gun was loaded when he showed it to Ross in his bedroom. All of a sudden, the gun went off and Ross' dreams of going to high school and becoming a lawyer were over.
Court heard the story of a troubled teen, a boy who suffered trauma as a child, and who has been in trouble with the courts before.
The teen was sentenced to probation for robbery just two weeks before the 2015 shooting. He was ordered to stay away from Jamestown, but court heard he returned to his mother's house in that neighbourhood, and within two days he got a gun and accidentally ended a friend's life.
The boy has been in custody since his arrest in August 2015 for Ross' death. Last year, he pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
Justice Antonio Di Zio told court Friday that he is limited by the law in the sentence he can hand out under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
He sentenced the teen to six more months of open custody, followed by less than a year of community supervision and probation.
Justice Di Zio told court he suspects that will not be enough to rehabilitate the youth.
At one point in court, the teen stood and faced Ross' family.
"I regret what happened," he said. "I understand it was my fault... I'm sorry."
"It's sad," pastor Keaton Austin, a friend of Ross' family, said outside the courthouse. "Yes, the kid apologized. I feel sorry for the kid too. I feel sorry for the young man. The system failed both parties."
Erickson said there are "so many lessons" to learn from this case.
"Day in and day out, there are families living in these communities who, many of them live fearfully," he said. "We don't seem to really do enough. We only seem to pay attention when something tragic happens."
As the teen was led out of the courtroom, the justice looked at him and said, "Good luck. Study hard. Do the best that you can."