The 16-year-old was in a gunfight near The Rayen School last summer.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURT REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sixteen-year-old Derrick A. Jones Jr. is headed to prison for killing a 19-year-old man during a gunfight last summer.
Jones' lawyer, David Betras, said Jones' only other option was the graveyard.
"People in the suburbs don't understand that when you're a black kid growing up in the city, you have two choices," Betras said.
"You can carry a gun for protection and face the fact that you're going to end up in handcuffs and [prison] orange clothes, or don't carry a gun and face the fact that you're going to end up a victim and in a cemetery."
Jones, of Lauderdale Avenue, was one of several people involved in a shootout in June 2001 near The Rayen School. Authorities say he shot and killed Alexander Scott of Tod Lane.
Jones pleaded guilty Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to a charge of voluntary manslaughter, which was reduced from murder in a plea agreement with the county prosecutor's office.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum scheduled sentencing for Feb. 27 and ordered that a background check be done in the meantime.
Sentencing: Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Pochiro recommended that Jones be sentenced to four years in prison for the voluntary manslaughter charge and an additional, mandatory three years for a firearm specification, for a total of seven years.
Betras said he doesn't like the fact that Jones is being treated as an adult and will be sentenced to an adult prison, though he understands it's what Ohio law requires.
"This is not easy for any of us," Judge Krichbaum said during the hearing. "It's a difficult thing for the prosecutor, the defense and for me to have such a young man here for such an unbelievably serious crime."
Pochiro said Jones and a friend, Vandy Bryant, were outside a house on Benita Avenue in June 2001 when Scott and two others drove up and got out of their car.
What happened: A fistfight ensued between Bryant and Stefan Breedlove, who was with Scott. When Bryant started getting the better of Breedlove, someone grabbed a gun and started shooting, Pochiro said. As the fight broke up and people scattered, Jones shot Scott, he said.
Betras said a bullet grazed across Jones' chest, tearing his clothing, but he was not seriously hurt.
The case was scheduled for trial next week. Pochiro said he thinks a jury would have convicted Jones of the lesser charge rather than murder.