JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville teen was sentenced Friday to 35 years in prison for killing a 17-year-old in October 2010.
Ernest Bell, now 16, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shooting Shavaris Wilkes (pictured below) in the back of the head.
"I want to apologize to the victims, Shavaris Wilkes," Bell said as he stood before the judge at Friday's sentencing. "I just want to tell the court though, it is not the way everyone try to make it seem."
Bell was 14 when he shot Wilkes in the head on Palmdale Street in Northwest Jacksonville. Police say Wilkes was found lying in the road, and he later died at a hospital.
Police said Bell told his parents he had shot someone, and they contacted police.
Wilkes' mother, Lynda Wilkes, and brother, 10-month-old Jay-Quan Mosley, were killed in 2004 by Lynda Wilkes' boyfriend, who is now on death row.
Shavaris Wilkes testified in that case, saying how much he missed his mother.
Barely able to speak about it in the courtroom, Wilkes' father is distraught his son never got the chance to grow up, but he said he's relieved Bell received a 35-year prison sentence.
"He's gone, you know, I can't see him through the things I know he could've done," said Bryant Thompkins, Wilkes' father. "So it's sad. I'm just going to move on, you know."
Despite Bell's guilty plea, his mother tried to shift the blame away from her son, claiming it's her fault he turned out to be a murderer.
"I feel like there is two victims here," said Ernell Townsend, Bell's mother. "I made him a victim his whole life because of the things I didn't provide for him, and I'm sorry."
Wilkes' family calls that statement an excuse, saying they are satisfied with Bell's punishment.
"He gets some time, but it's still not going to bring my brother back," said Marquita Wilkes, Shavaris' sister.
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