Just before the man convicted of killing Shellton Hicks was sentenced to life in prison Thursday, the victim’s mother, Fredlisha Hughes, told the court she still wonders why, and always will.
“At a school. Broad daylight. Unarmed. Not a threat. Wow. That was very, very heartless,” Ms. Hughes said. “I've asked the same questions over and over for months. Why? If Shellton wasn't a threat and was running away, why did Shellton have to get shot in the back of his little young 16-year-old head?”
Visiting Judge Peter Handwork sentenced Darnell Bryant-Bey, 20, of the 1900 block of North Michigan Street, to life in prison with eligibility for parole after he serves 18 years. He also ordered Bryant-Bey to pay $960 in restitution to Ms. Hughes for her son’s headstone.
Bryant-Bey was found guilty by a jury in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Oct. 18 of murder with a firearm specification for the June 11 shooting death of young Hicks on the playground outside Sherman Elementary School at Walnut and Peck streets.
Judge Handwork said that like Ms. Hughes, he cannot understand what occurred.
“I'm simply struck by the callous disregard for life that was exhibited by the defendant,” the judge said. “... There was no mistake about what happened here. He intentionally pursued this young man, hunted him, chased him down, and basically executed him in the streets. I don't understand it and never will.”
Bryant-Bey showed no emotion and made no statements in court other than to say he wanted to appeal and asked the court to appoint an attorney to file his appeal. Defense attorney Adrian Cimerman said there was nothing to say because the charges carried a mandatory sentence.
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Ms. Hughes said her oldest son's death was a huge loss to her family, especially for her two younger sons who had attended Sherman Elementary but no longer do because of the reminder of where their brother died.
During the trial last month, 17-year-old Antanasha Johnson testified that she was sitting on a park bench talking to the Hicks youth when three men approached on bicycles. He got up and began walking away. She said he started to run and was shot in the back of the head.
“At no point to this day has the defendant accepted any responsibility for his actions; clearly he displays no remorse,” Judge Handwork said. “The probation department report suggests that this defendant sometimes agrees with the saying, 'Do unto others before they do unto you.' Well there was nothing in this record to suggest that young Shellton was about to do anything. He was running away. This defendant had no reason to fear him.”
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