‘The system is broken’: Man sentenced 22 years for role in shooting that killed 9-year-old girl, injured 11-year-old boy

Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 5:56 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A 19-year-old convicted in a shooting that left a 9-year-old girl dead and an 11-year-old boy wounded during a 2019 Memorial Day weekend cookout was sentenced Thursday afternoon.

Quinshawn Betts was found guilty in March of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and firearm charges in the death of Markiya Dickson and wounding of Jaquez Evans-Moses.

Thursday, Betts was sentenced to 22 years in prison connection to the shooting at Carter Jones Park in May 2019.

9 year old shot and killed almost a year ago today.
9 year old shot and killed almost a year ago today.(wwbt/nbc12)

“Not too happy, not too happy,” said Markiya’s father, Mark Whitfield, regarding the sentence. “But I understand that’s how the system works; the system is broken; the system needs to be fixed.”

In court Thursday, the judge heard arguments on a motion filed by Betts’ attorney to set the verdict aside, citing inaccuracies in a piece of evidence presented in court during the trial. He also argued self-defense for Betts. That motion was denied.

Witness statements from Markiya’s family were given along with Betts’ family, leaving many in the courtroom with tears.

Whitfield calling this a “lose-lose situation” for all involved.

“I’m just numb to it all right now,” he said. “I can’t explain how I feel no more; I’m just numb on the inside.”

It’s been 15 months since Markiya’s life was cut short by bullets flying across Carter Jones Park during a community event in May 2019.

The 9-year-old was playing with friends when an argument started on the basketball court and gunfire erupted. Markiya and an 11-year-old boy were struck; Markiya later died at the hospital.

In March, Betts was convicted of firing one of those bullets that struck Markiya.

“You might not have intentionally come out there to kill my baby, but you came out there and shot up a park,” Whitfield said.

During the trial, Betts’ attorney argued he was defending himself and his brother after a gunman opened fire on them first.

Betts was originally scheduled for sentencing in August, but that was continued after riot damage closed the John Marshall Courthouse.

During Thursday’s hearing, Betts was visibly upset; covering his face and wiping away tears as his own family members addressed the court along with Markiya’s family.

Betts’ mother and two sisters described him as a quiet, loving man who stepped up to help his family.

The 19-year-old has a child of his own, who now will not be able to be raised by his father, something they said Betts felt strongly about.

Prosecutors said there was nothing about Betts’ upbringing that would direct him toward a crime of this nature.

Betts also addressed the court saying he was deeply sorry and wished that day was different.

“You can be sorry now because you got caught,” Whitfield said. “It’s different when you didn’t get caught. First, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

Whitfield also spoke about the violence since Markiya’s death, saying the lives of our innocent children are still being taken. So far this year in Richmond six children have been killed; one under the age of 12.

“Put the guns down,” Whitfield said. “We’ve got issues and we need to start talking about it because we’re taking innocent people’s lives that don’t have anything to do with nothing.”

Whitfield also said stronger punishments must be handed out, especially if children are murdered. He was not satisfied with the 22-year sentence for his daughter’s killer and called the system broken.

“It ain’t making it no better for anyone else out on the streets because it’s like ‘Okay, I go kill a kid and get off with a little bit of time and still get to live the rest of my life’ but the family has to suffer for the rest of theirs because their child is gone,” he said.

Betts’ family and his attorney politely declined to comment following the hearing.

Meanwhile, two other men arrested in connection to this shooting are also awaiting trials/hearings.

Two men have been arrested and a third suspect known in connection to the death of a 9-year-old...
Two men have been arrested and a third suspect known in connection to the death of a 9-year-old girl, who was caught in the crossfire and killed at a park over Memorial Day weekend. (from left to right: Quinshawn Betts, 18, Jermaine Davis, 21, and Jesus Turner, 20.)(Richmond Police)

Jermaine Davis, who was 21 years old at the time of his arrest, is scheduled for a two-day jury trial starting Nov. 17. He faces first-degree murder, malicious wounding, and firearm charges.

Jesus Turner, who was 20 years old at the time of his arrest, is scheduled for a term hearing on Sept. 8. He was originally scheduled for a jury trial in April, but that was continued.

All three men were arrested in November 2019.

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