Teens get 27 years in murder of Atlee student - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Teens get 27 years in murder of Atlee student

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HANOVER, VA (WWBT) -

Three teens who killed a 16 year old Atlee student in Hanover last year will each serve 27 years in prison. A circuit court judge handed down the sentence following a four hour hearing Monday afternoon.

It was quite an emotional day in court as the 16 year old victim's mother took the stand in tears followed by the three defendants who told the court they're sorry.

"A joke, a mockery of the court system," Shannon Wells said in response to the defendant's apologies.

She didn't hold back her feelings after the sentencing of three teens who killed her 16 year old son, Brett.

"27 years is not enough," she said in anger.

More than two dozen people were in court Monday to support the Wells family, many of them wearing t-shirts with Brett's photo.

Defense attorneys pleaded with the judge to re-consider the 1st degree murder charges four months after the court found Da'von Byers, Xavia Highsmith, and Kevin Drayton guilty of shooting wells in his home over 4 ounces of marijuana. A judge denied the motion and listened as the defense portrayed the teens as smart, involved in church and school activities. But it wasn't enough to avoid the prison sentence the defendant's parents braced themselves for.

"Compared to what he could've gotten, it was fair. I look at it the other way, it could've been my son and I'd want the same justice for her that I'd want her to want for me," said Karima Byers.

Justice not served to the extent an ailing mother, or the state, would've chosen.

"It's certainly not what the Commonwealth was hoping for," said Prosecutor Shari Skipper.

"Life. A life for a life right?" Wells said regarding her expectations of the sentence.

She also testified she has to get counseling once a week just to get through her grief. Her husband, Brett Well's father, was too shaken up to speak.

The teens could have been sentenced to as little as six years and as much as life in prison. Their 27 year sentence takes into account more than 30 years the judge suspended.

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