Derrick Bratton is arraigned in Toledo Municipal Court before Judge William M. Connelly, Jr., in Toledo, Ohio on August 21.
Though he contended the shooting was an accident, Derrick Bratton was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for causing the death of Latina Hampton.
Bratton, 34, of the 4000 block of Bellevue Road pleaded no contest Jan. 16 and was found guilty of reckless homicide and a firearm specification for the Aug. 19 shooting death of Ms. Hampton, 34, of Toledo.
“She is my best friend, and I would never hurt her purposely,” Bratton said in a letter to the court that was read by his attorney, Ronnie Wingate. “I had a very bad moment of judgment on that night of Aug. 19, 2017. I was drinking and smoking and had a very bad slip-up on my behalf, but I can tell you that no matter what anyone says, I love my sister.”
Prosecutors said Bratton was at a gathering at the Vermaas Avenue home of Darius Massengill when Mr. Massengill showed his guests a new handgun. Though it was unloaded at that time, he reloaded the gun.
Though the witness accounts vary as to what happened next, prosecutors said Bratton picked up the gun and said he wanted to scare Ms. Hampton when she arrived. When Mr. Massengill opened the door, Bratton had the gun and recklessly fired a shot that struck her in the neck.
“There are punishments that would cause an individual to suffer beyond any amount of years that he can be incarcerated,” Mr. Wingate said. “I believe that that is the situation with Mr. Bratton because this is something he has to live with and, more importantly, try to find a reason as to why he should forgive himself for doing something as foolish as what was done that cost the life of his sister.”
Charvett Hampton tearfully told the court that her sister's death “put a hole in our hearts forever.” She said her sister had two young sons who are hurting along with the rest of the family.
“Why did you pick up the gun to scare her when you knew she was scared of guns?” Ms. Hampton asked. “Why did you pull the trigger to hurt her?”
Before sentencing Bratton, Judge Stacy Cook asked a number of questions to Maggie Koch, an assistant county prosecutor, about the facts of the case: whether Bratton knew the gun was loaded, why Mr. Massengill had reloaded it, why Mr. Massengill wasn't charged in the case.
“This is a horrible loss,” Judge Cook said. “There is no reason for this young woman to have lost her life. Whether or not it was a poor judgment — whatever misguided thought was going through someone's head — there's no justification for wanting to scare somebody with a gun.”
Bratton had faced a maximum of six years in prison. As part of a plea agreement, the court dismissed charges of murder and tampering with evidence.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.
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