JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year-old boy accused of shooting into a Duval County school bus last year and wounding two girls will spend 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to his charges Monday.
Edgar Robles entered a guilty plea to two counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of shooting or throwing deadly missiles.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the attempted murder charges and 15 years for shooting a deadly missile. The sentences will run concurrently, and he must serve a minimum mandatory of 25 years.
He must also serve two years of community control and three years of probation, which will begin after his 30-year sentence.
Robles had been set to go to trial May 23, but his attorney reached an agreement with prosecutors a few days ago.
In May 2015, Robles approached a Duval County school bus that was pulling up to a bus stop on 118th Street.
Robles began yelling and arguing with students on the bus, pulled out a gun and fired several shots into the bus before fleeing the scene. The shooting was caught on surveillance video and witnessed by 15 people.
Two female students were struck by gunfire. One victim, Amaya Sherman, was shot in the back of her head and the other, Shakayla Singleton, was shot through the face. The victims have recovered from their injuries.
One of the bullets was just inches from striking Singleton in the brain. Instead, the bullet went through both of her cheeks.
Shakayla's mother said she thinks Robles' 30-year sentence is fair because there were so many potential victims on the bus.
“Thirty years is an extremely long time, and certainly the defense attorney made the decision that he could have faced much longer if he went to a jury trial in this case, with the amount of possible charges and multiple victims, attempted murder charges, throwing deadly missiles, when you start to stack all that up, there's a potential he could have faced much longer,” said Gene Nichols, an attorney not connected with Robles' case.
Investigators believe Robles had planned a fight at the bus stop, and when he showed up and started yelling at teens to get off the bus, someone opened a window and spat on him.
Police said that's when Robles pulled a gun and fired into the bus, which was taking 30 students home from three alternative middle and high schools.
Robles, who was prosecuted as an adult, was arrested during a traffic stop in Liberty County, Georgia -- about 30 miles south of Savannah. Authorities said he was treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound, then locked up in a juvenile facility in Georgia until he was returned to Jacksonville to face the charges.
He could have faced up to life in prison.
State attorney candidates weigh in
Angela Corey, state attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit, and Wes White, a candidate for state attorney, both agree that the minimum mandatory of 25 years fits the crimes of Robles.
Corey said she believes Robles needed to face an adult sentence for an adult crime.
"We have the same thought process any time anyone under 18 commits a very violent crime. And make no mistake, this was one of the most violent crimes committed by a teenager in recent history. So we balance the need to protect the community against the young age. We always take that into consideration," Corey said.
She said the minimum mandatory fits the crime, and pointed out that Robles could have been charged with attempted murder on every person riding the bus that day.
"If we are seeking long prison sentences, it's because the crime is so violent we have to do it to protect the community," Corey said.
White is one of three other candidates running for Corey's position. The former prosecutor said he agrees with putting Robles through adult court as a teen, but thinks the case should of gone to trial.
"This is one of those cases where we need to send that message to the public. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior," White said.
He believes that sends a message to other youth, even if it costs taxpayers for the trial.
"There's a bright-line and our schools have to be safe zones, our school buses have to be safe zones. And you can't cross that line. And if you do, you do it at your peril. But again, I'd have liked to see a jury trial so that (would) have played out in front of the public," White said.
News4Jax reached out to the other two candidates for comment, but could not reach Kenny Leigh or Melissa Nelson.