The playground murder of a man, who was simply trying to move children away from harassing teenagers, has resulted in prison sentences for two of the four involved.
Robert Kelly, 18, and Domnard White, 17, were convicted for the crime. The other two were tried as juveniles in a juvenile court and went unnamed in official reports. The Detroit Free Press reports that White and Kelly apologized for the crime after cellphone video of the attack was played in court on Tuesday.
“We are sorry… We wish we could bring him back… We never meant to kill him,” they said in a joint statement at sentencing.
The playground murder victim was Scott Simerson, who was supervising a group of younger kids and had decided to relocate them to another area when he felt some older boys were harassing them. At that point, Simerson, who possessed a lanky and slight frame, was assaulted by the four and kicked violently in the back of the head. Officials believe it was this kick from Kelly that resulted in Simerson going into a coma and dying two months later.
“Mr. Simerson was surrounded by four young men looking for all the world like they were wolves closing in on their prey,” Judge Donald Johnston said after prosecutors played the cell phone video of the assault. “They ganged up on him striking blows, kicking him and causing his death.”
Edward Simerson, the deceased’s father, asked Judge Johnston to impose a “stiff” punishment prior to sentencing.
“They were so nonchalant about it,” he said, in tears. “I would like you to use the maximum sentence. We can’t bring Scott back but I would like justice for my son.”
White said he was “sorry to the victim and his family,” adding that it was “never our intent to do what happened.”
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Kelly said. “I just apologize to the family. I can’t bring him back. I wish I could.” Kelly pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and received a sentence of five to 15 years in prison. (He was previously convicted more than once for assault.)
White will get anywhere from three-and-a-half to 15 years in prison.
Many online commenters were not happy with the results.
“They do not deserve to see the light of day again. Remove them from society permanently, I care not how.”
“Hope those [expletives] get killed in prison.”
“‘We never meant to do what we did to him.’ Ahhhhh, right, you meant to just maim and severely beat a man, but not kill him. You’re such better people than what we THOUGHT you were.”
Do you think the teens should get a prison sentence for the playground murder, and if so, was the sentence passed a fair one? Sound off in our comments section.