Blake Christopher Tademy apologized and said it was an accident, but a judge gave him the maximum sentence Monday in the shooting death of Nicole Lee Kerby, 17, as a courtroom of sobbing relatives listened intently.
Kerby was shot in the head Nov. 19, 1997, while Tademy was handling a 9mm Glock handgun in an apartment. Before the shooting, he had been fooling around with the gun and aiming the laser sight at friends who were present, according to witnesses at an earlier preliminary hearing.Tademy, 25, was not supposed to own a gun as a condition of his early parole from prison on a 0-5 year sentence for theft. He said previously that he had gotten the gun about a month before the shooting because he was concerned about his safety and the safety of his family. Tademy also said he was no longer involved with gangs.
Third District Judge Anne Stirba on Monday reinstated the sentence for the original crime and sent Tademy to prison for 1-15 years for manslaughter, a second-degree felony, involving Kerby's death.
The sentences will run consecutively.
"The gravity of what happened is obvious and is permanent," Stirba said. "There is nothing I could say to people here today that would begin to address how profound the pain is that has been caused."
Earlier in the court hearing, Wes and Debbie Kerby, the victim's parents, spoke to the court in choked voices.
"I'll never see my baby again. This has changed my whole entire life," Debbie Kerby said.
"Yes, I am bitter," Wes Kerby said. "I don't go through a day that I don't cry at some point because I miss my daughter." Wes Kerby said Tademy had changed so many people's lives and caused such suffering, including to Tademy's own family, that Tademy should be locked up for a long time so he can't hurt anyone else.
Wes Kerby also said that he had attended every court hearing in the case and had never seen Tademy show any signs of remorse. "Sure, he's sorry now because it fits his needs."
Outside the courtroom, prosecutor Carlos Esqueda said Stirba did all she could by imposing the maximum sentence allowed by law. Esqueda also dismissed the idea that the shooting could have been accidental.
"There's a difference between reckless conduct and an accident," Esqueda said. If Tademy had not possessed a gun, had not been involved with gangs and had not been playing around with the gun, Nicole Kerby would still be alive.
Esqueda also said he wants to send a message to all gang members: Break the law and you'll go to prison.