John Ball died because he was trying to save his brother.
On Oct. 9, 1997, the 17-year-old and a friend went to the parking lot of Woodrow Wilson Elementary, 2825 S. 200 East, to prevent his younger brother from fighting with a group of older teenagers, said Ball's mother, Wendy Pearson. But instead of stopping the fight, Ball was beaten with a bat and a tire iron.
"He was there to bring (his brother) home safely," Pearson said.
Monday, the second of four men who have pleaded guilty to various felonies in connection with the beating death, was sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation.
David Richard Jaramillo, 20, who pleaded guilty to criminal homicide by assault, a third-degree felony, was sentenced to a 3-to-five-year prison term, which included a 3-year gang enhancement, followed by a consecutive 0-to-five-year gun enhancement. But 3rd District Judge William Barrett stayed the sentence in lieu of 365 days in jail and 36 months of probation.
Since Barrett will give Jaramillo credit for the time he has served, Jaramillo will be free in about three weeks, said Deputy District Attorney Vincent Meister. But Barrett warned Jaramillo that if he breaks his probation, he could spend up to 10 years in prison.
"My head tells me to send him to prison, but my heart tells me to give him a chance," Barrett said. "I think we have a young man who can be redeemed."
Ball's family, however, had asked that more jail time be imposed.
"We'll take what we've got, but one year is not enough," said Ball's grandmother, Dorothy Ball.
Meister said Jaramillo and his friends had agreed to fight with Ball's brother and his friends. Tension between the two groups of teens had risen after a girl broke up with Ball's 15-year-old brother and began dating Gary Travis Gardner, who is now 18.
Gardner, Jaramillo, James Kendrick, 18, and Terrill Damone Davis, 18, were waiting for Ball's brother at the parking lot when Ball and a friend arrived. During the fight that ensued, Ball was beaten with a bat and a tire iron, Meister said.
Gardner, Jaramillo, Kendrick and Davis were charged with murder, a first-degree felony, after Ball died Dec. 26 following 11 weeks in intensive care. An autopsy revealed Ball had injuries to the head due to blunt force trauma.
Last month, Davis, who pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault, a class A misdemeanor, was sentenced to a year in jail, which he will serve on top of a five-year prison sentence for an unrelated aggravated assault.
Kendrick, Jaramillo's half brother, and Gardner both pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and are scheduled for sentencing in October.
During his sentencing, Jaramillo took a moment to apologize to Ball's family.
"It must be really hard for you. I'm really sorry," he said.