Murder victim’s mother: I will pray for killers

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Irene Adkins, mother of murder victim Brandon Adkins, sits silently in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court as sentences are handed down to her son’s teen killers. In a prepared statement to the court, she said she offered prayers for the convicted boys and their families.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


Irene Adkins, fighting back tears, said she will pray for the two teen boys who killed her son a little more than a year ago.

Less than 24 hours after being found guilty of aggravated murder, Deandre M. McCreary, 16, of West Woodland Avenue, and Rayshawn Royal, 17, of Cohasset Drive, learned that they will spend at least the next 28 years behind bars before they are first eligible for parole.

A jury convicted them Tuesday of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery with gun specifications in the June 18, 2011, fatal shooting of Brandon Adkins.

Irene Adkins said the situation is devastating for all three families.

“I truly believe that justice was served, but this wasn’t easy for any of us because there were all children involved,” she said at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing in the courtroom of Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Irene Adkins said she hopes the case will be a lesson to young people that nothing good can come from carrying and using firearms.

The attire of McCreary and Royal wore before Judge Sweeney was much different from their appearance during their weeklong trial.

Gone were the crisp, yet somewhat oversized, white shirts and neck ties that enhanced their boyish image. They were replaced by the orange jumpsuits handed out to virtually every convicted criminal in the justice system.

Royal and McCreary both made brief statements before sentencing, telling the court they accept the jury’s verdict and apologize for the heartache they caused to the Adkins family.

Robert Andrews, an assistant county prosecutor, asked the judge to send the teenagers to prison for life.

“The only thing I see in favor of the defendants would be their ages, but when you look at the facts ... there was no allegation that Brandon Adkins did anything to provoke this,” Andrews said, adding the crimes were committed in front of three people and the shooting done “in cold blood.”

Judge Sweeney handed down the sentence at 10:15 a.m. to a courtroom packed with members of the teens’ families and their friends.

Those in the courtroom began sobbing before the sentence was handed down. Those cries only got louder as the judge sentenced McCreary and Royal to 25 years to life on the murder charge and a concurrent 10 years on the aggravated robbery charge. They each will also have to serve an additional three years consecutive to the other charges for using a gun in committing the crime.

County deputies immediately arrested Royal’s mother, Yolanda Winlock, after the sentencing hearing. Winlock had an outstanding warrant out of Boardman Township for obstructing official business.

Defense lawyers Anthony Meranto and Jeffrey Limbian, representing the defendants, asked the court to consider their young ages.

They both said the boys still have a chance to be released from prison, if given a lighter sentence, and do some good in the world.

Police found Adkins, 16, of East Philadelphia Avenue, a Chaney High School student, lying in the driveway of a house in the 3100 block of South Avenue, shot in the back, abdomen and right forearm and surrounded by a large crowd. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The case against McCreary and Royal weighed heavily on the testimony of three female teenagers who witnessed the shooting.

The witnesses said Royal and McCreary, wearing hooded sweatshirts, met Adkins in the South Avenue driveway, pulled out guns and demanded he empty his pockets. He said the two defendants gave Adkins five seconds to do so, then opened fire.

Limbian and Meranto said the police department performed a subpar investigation, and the witnesses were not reliable because two of the three witnesses have poor vision and at least one was smoking marijuana just before the shooting.

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