Social Question

ibstubro's avatar

How much did race and class affect the Georgia case where a 16 yo girl received a 40 year sentence for accidentally shooting a man during a robbery gone bad?

Asked by ibstubro (18804points) June 21st, 2016

Please note that this is not a loaded question, where I’m trying to elicit certain answers to reinforce a personal bias.
I read this story as a news item, and I was shocked at the severity of the sentence, so I searched for images of the people involved, then saw a bit about the history of the victim and noted the location of the incident, Georgia.
I was left wondering if I missed some information that would account for the severity of the sentence given the age and intent of the shooter.

Georgia teen sentenced to 40 years after killing man for a Playstation 4 in Craigslist robbery

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23 Answers

jca's avatar

I haven’t yet read the article and will google it more later when I have time. Right off the bat, my guess is that it’s considered armed robbery and a whole bunch of charges attached, so it was not like she randomly shot some guy by accident. She was robbing him and judges don’t usually look too kindly upon that (I’m guessing it was armed robbery).

When I first read this, without reading article as I said I would later, I thought that she shot the guy as in “armed robbery.” When I see one of your tags saying “manslaughter” I am thinking what judge is going to let someone get away with robbing and killing someone? It would have been an accident if she were cleaning a gun and it just went off and killed the guy. Robbing the guy and then shooting him is not an accident, in my opinion. If she wasn’t robbing the guy, this wouldn’t have happened.

Do we as a society want people running around loose who shoot and kill people for Playstations?

jca's avatar

I just read the article. It doesn’t seem like it was an accident. I don’t see why a murderer should get a short sentence. Do murderers get shorter sentences than that? Yes of course, and some murderers get longer sentences than this, too. The circumstances surrounding this murder were part of the judges decision.

ibstubro's avatar

^This is exactly why I ask questions in the General section, @jca.

zenvelo's avatar

In California, this is a felony -murder, in that the killing occurred during the commission of a felony. In California, it could be argued by a prosecutor that this was a Special Circumstance that call for the Death Penalty.

There are tragic circumstances to this crime, but it is a sever crime none the less. Conspiracy to commit armed robbery is not a light action.

There was no accident, she took a gun to a robbery.

Cruiser's avatar

I am scratching my head on this one. From the info provided in the article and others I have now read….her actions as well as the boy friend they pre-meditated this robbery. It is unclear that the victim’s murder itself was premeditated. It seems the girl simply reacted to the victim resisting just handing over the Playstation. The end result is the victim is shot and killed.

Georgia sentencing laws that I can find are pretty specific….Involuntary manslaughter is a mandatory 1–10 years sentence. Voluntary Manslaughter demands a 1–20 year sentence. How or where a 40 years sentence comes into play for a 14 yr old tried as an adult tells me there is a ton of information missing from this headline story.

chyna's avatar

I haven’t read the other answers yet but read the article. If you bring a gun to a robbery then you must be planning on using it. I don’t see that this was an accident. She murdered someone for a game! And then lied and pretended her and her boyfriend were the victims. I feel she got what she deserved.
I also don’t see where you are getting that this was an accident. If she had the gun out to scare the guy into giving up his game, then she also had planned on using it IMHO.

ibstubro's avatar

I was particularly struck by the age of the defendant and the fact that she actually shot her boyfriend, and the bullet passed through his hand, killing the victim. That seems to me to indicate she did not intend to shoot, period, or that she did not intend to shoot the direction she did. Who did the gun belong too, how did she end up with it, and was there any evidence she had any experience handling the gun? I know none of that absolves her of responsibility, but I’ve see a hell of a lot less given as reason for minimal sentencing.

I don’t know much about murder law, and even less about Georgia law, but if there is any rehabilitative value in law enforcement, I would think this would be a prime case for it.

I’d be interested in any additional information regarding the criminals, the victim and the specific Georgia law. I do admit I wonder about the race and class of everyone involved, as well as similar cases in Georgia or elsewhere in the nation.

CWOTUS's avatar

Since it was a plea deal – for a 40-year sentence! – I’m assuming that the charge was aggravated murder or, as @zenvelo noted it would be charged in California, felony murder, which could be a capital crime in Georgia.

I doubt if race played much part in the sentencing or in the charges, even considering the race and popularity of the victim. I will assume that a jury (which was NOT seated at the time of her plea deal) would have included a representative sample of black folks, and I doubt whether they would decide to hang the jury or force an acquittal if the case was strong. It obviously was a strong case, if she copped to that deal before the jury was even seated. It’s a very long sentence, but at least it lets her live.

I wonder whether she would have agreed to a plea deal in a state without capital punishment. And I wonder if a state without capital punishment would have given such a long sentence in the first place. I don’t think a “life” sentence is really (often) “for life”, is it?

@Cruiser, it’s the “aggravating” circumstances that make the crime “worth” such a heavy punishment. Robbery is one thing, but a premeditated and planned robbery – with a weapon – makes it far more serious than, say, a smash-and-grab. Then using the weapon during the robbery and killing the victim adds the high level of “aggravation” to the robbery charge.

josie's avatar

In my state that would be felony murder, and could carry the death penalty.

I would say that age of the killer, and perhaps race and perhaps class may have contributed to considering the lesser sentence.

I wonder if race and class had anything to do with why the victim is dead, instead of beaten up and minus a PS.

Cruiser's avatar

@CWOTUS @josie I have been beating the bushes on this on since Felony Murder charges in Georgia demands a mandatory death sentence or at the very least life without parole. I did finally find an article that explains that Kayla Dixon did accept a plea deal of 40 years in prison which tells me she will testify against her boyfriend who will get one of the harsher sentences.

chyna's avatar

Will she be eligible for early parole?

Cruiser's avatar

@chyna From what I read, the GA Federal Murder Charge is either death or life sentence without parole. I read of this one guy who was offered a plea deal of 36 months in jail no early release, on the advice of his uncle he took a pass on the deal and the Judge handed him the life sentence with no parole!

ibstubro's avatar

All reports were that the intention was robbery. They even searched the internet on robbing someone and creating an alibi. The 3 met, the PS owner resisted, the boyfriend was trying to wrest the PS away from the owner, and the girl pulled the gun, shooting a bullet that passed through the boyfriend and killed the PS owner.
I wonder if the girl had handled/fired guns before.
Perhaps the lawyer took the plea bargain to make sure there was no capital sentence, and thinks he can get a reduced sentence on appeal.

I find it very sad to think that we, the American people, could completely give up on 16 yo girl. I’ll be 56 next year, and I can barely remember being 16.

Cruiser's avatar

@ibstubro I wholeheartedly agree…I truly hope her skin color had zero influence on her sentence….

johnpowell's avatar

You don’t accidentally shoot a man. They robbed and brought a gun. I’m totally fine with paying taxes to keep her locked up until she dies.

jca's avatar

I agree with @chyna: She brought (or they brought) a gun to a robbery. No accident. I’m not sorry for her or the boyfriend. If she gets out after ⅔ of her sentence, she’ll still be young (around 40-ish).

I just googled it to try to get more info. I found an article in the Atlanta Constitution and it said pretty much the same thing – no more or less. It also reminded me that she had her baby in the car with her (she was 16 at the time of the robbery). That’s crazy, too. Child endangerment, lack of supervision, all other kinds of child welfare stuff in with that, and now the child is either living with relatives, if there are suitable relatives, or the child is in foster care. Not too smart of the mother – taking a baby on a robbery/murder. Shaking my head (aka “SMH”).

ibstubro's avatar

A 16yo girl with a baby that she had at, what? 14 years old?
And she should have, what? Asked the nanny to stay over for a couple hours? Dropped the baby off with the baby-father that raped her at the age of 12, 13?

Yeah, having her baby in the car while she helped her boyfriend try to steal a PS was clearly worth at least another 10 years. I certainly hope she wasn’t driving, as she probably isn’t old enough to have her driver’s permit.
Clearly a wasted life of privilege…I’m surprised her mother didn’t whisk her off to the Caribbean.

jca's avatar

If she were not robbing and murdering, the issue of who watched the baby would not be a problem. Not that it’s ideal to have a baby at such a young age, but the majority of girls who do are not out shooting people for Playstations.

ibstubro's avatar

Which is exactly why the question is:
“How much did race and class affect the Georgia case?”, @jca.

Exactly what was ideal in this case where one life was taken and two others effectively ended?
For that matter, exactly what was ideal in this young woman’s life? Society did nothing to protect her from poverty and abuse for 16 years of her young life, but few seen to have a problem weighing in on putting the next 40 years of her life in the hands of the state based on an article on the internet, or a 4 sentence synopsis of that article.

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: How would you have liked society to protect her from poverty and abuse?

Is this a loaded question, where you ask a question and wait to argue with people who don’t agree with your preconceived notions?

ibstubro's avatar

Not at all, @jca. Where have I argued with anyone who attempted to answer the question?

If you believe there’s nothing society can to to prevent poverty, child abuse, racial bias and – yes to address your concern – child care for single mother’s, that’s your prerogative.
The question you responded to was, again:
”“How much did race and class affect the Georgia case?”

Your focus was on the irresponsibility of a 16yo leaving a 16mo baby in the car while she participated in in a stupid, stupid crime that effectively ended the lives of 3 young people.

zenvelo's avatar

@ibstubro Not every instance of interaction with the courts is a matter of privileged classes imposing an unjust burden on an oppressed group.

I am if a pretty liberal mind (I am considered moderate in San Francisco, which is somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders anywhere east of Berkeley/Oakland). But I think that the lack of outcry or national attention in this case shows that it isn’t unjust. She fired a gun at a robbery and killed someone. It was a tragic outcome for a stupid crime, but that is not excusable.

ibstubro's avatar

As of this writing, @zenvelo, I’m responsible for the sole GA on your first response.
I got the impression that you’d familiarized yourself with the incident and found the sentence just despite “tragic circumstances to this crime”.

I spent 10–15 minutes writing this question because of using Fluther mobile to post, and because I wanted to get the question exactly right.
IMO the first response derailed the question from:
“How much did race and class affect the Georgia case where a 16 yo girl received a 40 year sentence.”
“Do we as a society want people running around loose who shoot and kill people for Playstations?”

Or, as I would say in a slightly more inflammatory way, “In a world of black-and-white is there no Black counterpart in the judicial system to the White disease of Affluenza?”

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