JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man on Tuesday was sentenced to more than three decades in prison for the murder of 3-year-old Connor Mickens, though he did not fire the gunshot that killed the child.
Circuit Judge Steven Whittington sentenced Brian Littles to 35 years in prison on the felony murder count, 30 years on an armed burglary count and 15 years for possession of a firearm by a delinquent.
The sentences will run concurrently, meaning Littles will serve them at the same time.
"All behaved foolishly and reckless, every one of them," said Whittington. "Only one has criminal culpability as one who has more culpability, and that is Mr. Littles."
Court documents indicate the victim's mother and Littles were in a relationship that soured after three years. Records show they were texting back and forth in the hours leading up to the shooting.
Mickens was shot when he was caught in the Oct. 19, 2017, crossfire between the mother's new boyfriend and Littles, who showed up at the family's home uninvited.
Once he got there, police said, Littles climbed through an unlocked window. Things escalated when he confronted the couple with a revolver.
A shootout ensued.
Mickens was struck in the head as his mother’s boyfriend returned fire at Littles, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He died of his injuries two days later.
Littles, 23, turned himself in Oct. 20. Originally held on a firearm possession charge, he was later charged with second-degree felony murder, two counts of attempted murder and armed burglary.
Duval County court records show Littles pleaded guilty to the murder, burglary and firearm possession charges Sept. 10 as part of a plea agreement that saw prosecutors drop the attempted murder counts.
Under Florida’s felony murder law, a defendant facing a felony charge can also be charged with murder if the felony act contributes to someone's death.
"I am satisfied with the sentence, but I can't get my son back," Rashaela Mickens told News4Jax after Tuesday's sentencing hearing. "My prayers go out to the Littles family."
The victim's family said they forgive Littles for what happened.
"We are Christian, so justice the way we see it is through Christ," said aunt P.K. Mickens. "We want to encourage him. This is not something we wanted, per se, but when our emotions get the best of us, it will cause us to do things like what happened just shy of a year ago."
In the wake of the 3-year-old's death, his aunt said the family wants to warn others about the dangers of unhealthy relationships and domestic violence.
"We are going to grieve the loss of our nephew forever, and we just want to prevent it from happening to any other children, any more women in our community," she said.
Domestic violence resources
To learn more about domestic violence or get help, the following resources are available: