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Harsh sentence for young Virginia Beach man in fatal shooting

On July 21, a Virginia Beach resident was sentenced in a case arising out of events that took place late in 2012. On the night in question, the defendant apparently exchanged words with an intoxicated man in a convenience store; later, when the defendant was walking home accompanied by two female family members, the man drove by in his van, stopped and initiated a verbal altercation with the defendant.

At the time, the defendant was a juvenile, and in an attempt to end the confrontation, he flashed a gun. This is when the man told the defendant to wait, and that he had something for him. While the man was headed to his van, three to four shots rang out.

The man died later in the hospital. The defendant said he was afraid of the man, although a weapon was not found in the van. The defendant, now 18 years old, was certified as an adult in court due to the seriousness of the charges. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Despite the youthfulness of the defendant and the complicated circumstances that led to the shooting, on July 21, a Circuit Court judge handed down a sentence of 10 years in prison. This is the harshest sentence one can received for voluntary manslaughter in Virginia. The Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines recommend no more than five years and 11 months for voluntary manslaughter.

Being young, or feeling threatened, are not enough to excuse a violent act. To ensure you are not dealt with harshly by the justice system, a strong legal defense is critical.

Source: Wavy.com, "Man given maximum sentence for Va. Beach manslaughter," Catherine Rogers, July 21, 2014

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