The loved ones of a Michigan man killed when a sandbag crashed through his windshield was left devastated after the teens responsible avoided jail time.
Marquise Byrd was sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle traveling on Interstate 75 when a group of boys tossed a construction sandbag from the Indiana Avenue overpass in December. The 22-year-old died three days later.
Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon on Friday sentenced Demetrius Wimberly, Sean Carter, Pedro Salinas and William Parker to a youth treatment facility program rather than prison.
The teens, who were all 13 or 14 at the time of the crime, previously pleaded guilty in juvenile court to charges of murder, manslaughter and vehicular vandalism.
Byrd’s mother, Patricia Wilkes, said the boys’ sentence did not matter because she’ll still never be able to see her son again.
“This incident has disrupted my entire life, my entire family,” she told the Toledo Blade. “Now, my life is in shambles. For one, every day I wake up and I go to sleep thinking about my son lying there in that hospital bed.”
Ahead of their sentencing, the teens read prepared remarks, each of them directly apologizing to members of the victim’s family.
“I am sincerely sorry for the loss of Marquise Byrd. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing,” Salinas said. “I hope you can forgive me. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I’m only 14.”
Lillian Diallo, the attorney for Byrd’s family, slammed the sentences following the hearing.
“What madness is this? Where we don’t have to take responsibility for whatever age we are? What is this?” she asked.
Diallo argued that Byrd, recently engaged at the time of his passing, will never get to be married nor will he ever see his 2-year-old son again.
Lori Olender, deputy chief of the county’s juvenile branch, emphasized the “absolutely senseless act” destroyed a family.
“No matter how much time is given in this case, four juveniles will eventually be reunited with their family, but Marquise Byrd will not,” she said, urging the judge to ensure the incident not be treated like a “a childish prank but for the homicide that it is.”
Byrd’s brother, Marcus was visibly frustrated like the rest of his family, but said he was not surprised by the sentence.
“The way we were talking to the prosecutor, I knew we weren’t going to get justice,” he told the newspaper.
Wimberly, Carter and Parker will go to the youth treatment center for at least eight months and could get time in the Department of Youth Services if they fail to complete the program.
Salinas, who pushed the bag from the overpass, will also attend the center and could be confined until the age of 21 if he fails to meet conditions, according to the Blade.