A woman grieving the loss of her granddaughter asked Tuesday that the maximum penalty be given the man who fatally shot her loved one.
“Her memory lives on in our hearts,” Linda Davis said. “But her positive presence is lost forever.”
Marcellous Jamison, 26, apologized to Davis and her family after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 21-year-old Kennetha Leaphart on June 27, 2012. The North man told the court the shooting was an accident.
“I never meant for none of this to happen,” Jamison said. “I just wish they would forgive me.”
Circuit Court Judge Perry Buckner sentenced Jamison to five years, suspended to three years, and also gave him credit for more than a year he’s already served in jail.
“There was a life taken, a life that we cannot restore,” Buckner said.
Leaphart was found shot once in the head at the couple’s Maudeana Drive residence just outside of North.
Prosecutor Trey Harrell said there was no plea negotiation in the case. The state did not offer any deal, he said.
Harrell told the court that on June 27 of last year, both Jamison and Leaphart were at their residence, where some horseplay was going on. That horseplay included a .380-caliber Ruger handgun, the prosecutor said.
When Leaphart said she wanted something to eat, Jamison went to find some food, carrying the handgun with him, Harrell said. When he returned, there was some more playing around between the two, during which time the handgun went off, he said.
Harrell said when Jamison saw the bullet strike Leaphart in the head, he ran out to find help.
Defense attorney Peggy Hinds said that before the case could move forward, there were mental issues to be resolved. She said evaluations indicated Jamison was competent enough to make decisions concerning his case.
“Does he understand the charges?” Buckner asked.
“I believe he does, sir,” Hinds said.
Hinds said her client genuinely cared for Leaphart, who was his girlfriend. She said Jamison is a former special education student who took responsibility for the death of Leaphart from day one.
“This is truly a tragic situation,” she said. “I wish there was something we could do to change that.”
Davis said her granddaughter had been involved in at least two previous near-death situations, including being slashed with a knife at school and being left for dead in a hit-and-run incident.
Reading from a note written to Leaphart by her aunt and entered as a court exhibit, Davis said the family wanted their loved one to be cautious.
“‘I don’t want Mama to call me and tell me you have died,’” Davis read from the note.
Davis said Leaphart left behind a child who tells his classmates his mother is now in Heaven.
“To see the pain in the eyes of a 4-year-old is more than we can bear,” Davis said.
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