The teen said he fired only because he was being shot at.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A 16-year-old Lauderdale Avenue boy will spend seven years in prison for a fight that escalated from fisticuffs to gunfire.
Derrick A. Jones Jr. was sentenced Wednesday by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Jones shot and killed 19-year-old Alexander Scott of Tod Lane during a June 2001 shootout near The Rayen School.
He pleaded guilty in January to voluntary manslaughter, which was reduced from murder in a plea agreement with the prosecutor's office. The sentence includes four years for the manslaughter charge and three years for a firearm specification.
Grandmother's statement: Before sentencing, Scott's aunt, Felicia Scott, read a statement written by Twelvena Scott, the grandmother who'd raised Alexander.
Twelvena Scott's statement said she doesn't hate Jones for what he did, but ripped him for using a gun instead of fists to settle the dispute.
"Only cowards carry guns," the statement said.
Jones apologized and said he fired only because he'd been shot at and feared for his life.
Police said Jones and a friend, Vandy Bryant, were outside a Benita Avenue house when Scott and two other men drove up and got out of their car.
A fistfight ensued between Bryant and Stefan Breedlove, who was with Scott. During the fight, someone grabbed a gun and started shooting. The first shots came from someone in Scott's car, police reports said.
Jones hesitated and then returned fire, police reports said.
Defense attorney David Betras said a bullet grazed across Jones' chest, tearing his shirt, but he was not seriously wounded.
Betras said a seven-year sentence for killing someone may seem light, but he believes it is warranted because Jones did not initiate the gunfire and because Jones is going to an adult prison at such a young age.
"To a 16-year-old, that's a hefty sentence," he said.