A 19-year-old Las Vegas man accepted a plea deal today in the case of a drive-by shooting that left a high school freshman dead.
Ezekiel Williams' lawyer said his client has been promised a sentence of eight to 20 years for voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon and accessory to murder in the February 2008 slaying of 15-year-old Christopher Privett.
What happened was, Williams was driving the car while his passenger, 17-year-old Gerald Davison, shot and killed Privett as he and three friends walked home from Palo Verde High School. Williams admitted handing the gun to the shooter.
What's interesting to me is the shared responsibility. Apparently the courts felt the older teenager who passed the gun to Davison shared in the guilt for this murder. What about the girl? The story says there was a girl in the car as well who had gotten in an argument with the dead boy earlier in the day. Does she not share in the responsibility?
Maybe there's only so much guilt to go around. Direct involvement like passing the murder weapon immediately before the incident counts, but less direct involvement like whatever happened between the girl passenger and Privett is too far removed. In which case, whatever parental or societal influences might have played a factor couldn't possibly be mentioned as excuses or mitigation.
After interviewing the 17-year-old murderer, Metro Detective Clifford Mogg said, "He told detectives he didn't mean to kill anyone.” Is that difficult to believe? Is the idea that an individual who commits murder is not acting in isolation but rather in concert with numerous influences, some of them quite direct, too hard to accept? I say no. I say we lose nothing as a society by giving people like this the benefit of the doubt.
What's your opinion?