Fiancee: Father of 2′s last words were ‘Tell my boys I love them’

Leon Bennett was shot & killed near Jacksonville Beach bars in 2018


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The sentencing hearing began Thursday for a man who has pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the death of a father of two who was shot near the Jacksonville beach bars in 2018.

Shaquille Walker is charged with evidence tampering and carrying a concealed weapon in the shooting death of Leon Bennett, 23. Walker is one of two men charged in the case, though neither was charged with Bennett’s death. According to police, the shooting occurred after a fight that Bennett started.

Investigators said Bennett was shot during a brawl with a group of men, including Walker and co-defendant Jose Lebron.

During Monday’s hearing, Bennett’s grandparents, family members and the mother of his children read letters to the judge expressing how much they miss the father of two every day, pleading for the judge to hand over the maximum possible sentence of ten years.

Lakea Pringle, Bennett’s fiancee, is the mother of his two young boys. She was there as Bennett took his final breath.

She said his last words were: “Tell my boys I love them.”

“I can’t even tell you the countless nights of screaming nightmares, listening to him ask for his dad, watch him bring me pictures of his dad to only not be able to explain to our young child that daddy’s never coming back. The only man he knew. The man who unconditionally loved him like no one ever else will," Pringle said.

The other man charged in the case, Jose Lebron, was sentenced earlier this year to one year in jail after pleading guilty to evidence tampering. Lebron was driving a car involved in the 2018 shooting that was found abandoned in Central Florida.

Walker and Lebron surrendered to Hawaiian authorities in July 2018 after warrants were issued for their arrest. Investigators said they had caught a flight to Hawaii after ditching the car in Volusia County.

Court is scheduled to continue at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The judge is expected to hand down his sentence at that time.

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