Gunman pleads guilty in Hanover teen's death | News
HANOVER, VA (WWBT)- It was a rap video gone horribly wrong, and now one young Hanover County man is dead while another faces prison time.
Jyreffe Clark was shot and killed back on December 17th. Wednesday, Clark's high school classmate brought the case to an abrupt end by pleading guilty.
Franklin Robertson, III, appeared overwhelmed by sadness and remorse as he gave up the right to a trial, and instead pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Jyreffe Clark had friends everywhere: At church, at Lee-Davis High School, and at home, where people loved him.
A candlelight vigil in December took place just two days after Clark was killed. Clark was among friends, then too. He and three others were recording a rap video inside a house. It was meant to be like the film "Get Rich or Die Tryin".
But attorneys say Clark's teenage friend, Franklin Robertson, III, waved a gun -unaware that it was loaded- and accidentally fired a bullet into the back of Clark's head. The devout Christian and aspiring musician died instantly.
In court Wednesday, five months later, Robertson cried openly. John Luxton is his attorney.
"He takes this very seriously, and he's very sad about it," Luxton said.
After panicking and initially trying to cover up the killing, Robertson agreed to plead guilty when the charge was reduced from murder to involuntary manslaughter.
"I think it's probably in the top 2 or 3 percent of sad cases that I've handled...I mean, to have everybody crying. My client's blubbering up there. What can you say?" Luxton said.
Robertson's family left without comment. Clark's mother also declined to speak.
"She's heartbroken. Her son should have graduated this year. And he's not going to," said prosecutor Angela O'Connor.
By law, an involuntary manslaughter conviction carries a top penalty of 10 years in prison. In this case, however, Robertson's attorney said the sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months behind bars. The judge could agree with that or go higher.
Robertson will remain in a juvenile detention center until he's sentenced July 25th.
Two other teenagers involved in the shooting have both been convicted of accessory after the fact.
Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.
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