Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern on Monday sentenced Jamaal Byrd to active time of 11 months, 29 days with three months credit for time already served in a fatal shooting Feb. 27, 2010, at the Kanku’s at Wilcox and Tunnel Boulevard. He will also be on probation for three years.
Attorney Ryan Hanzelik argued the shooting of Terrance Etchison was in self defense for himself and his four-year-old daughter who at the time was asleep in the back seat of the car. The verdict, decided at the July 13 trial, was involuntary manslaughter carrying a sentence of 3-6 years.
Attorney Hanzelik reiterated that his client had been told twice that he would be killed and that the car would be shot if he left. Etchison was a longtime acquaintance of Byrd's and was a recognized gang member, he said. It was also known that he had been in federal prison.
The attorney said that night, Etchison appeared intoxicated, which tests later proved to be true. He said Byrd had been threatened before concerning a female he had dated while Etchison was incarcerated.
Judge Stern was told that Byrd was afraid for his life and that of his daughter and defended himself with a gun taken from the trunk of his car. The following day, Byrd turned himself in and served three months in isolation since jailers feared gang retaliation.
Byrd told the court, “I hate it happened” and that “it’s something I have to deal with every day.”
In cross-examination prosecutor Brian Finlay asked for a stiffer sentence. He argued that at the time of the shooting, Byrd was on probation for possession of a gun without a permit to carry it although it was registered. At the same time, a second gun was being carried in the trunk of his car. He also said that Byrd had the opportunity to leave.
Prosecutor Finlay stated that the gun owned by Etchison was never seen on the video although a witness to the incident was seen pulling a shiny object out of Etchison's pocket and putting it on the ground. Furthermore, the prosecutor said that Byrd had shown no remorse for taking a man’s life, to which Judge Stern replied that his argument was self defense.
In her ruling, Judge Stern said “some confinement is necessary” in order to deter others and to set an example to young men that they just cannot take the law into their own hands by shooting people.
The defense has 30 days to file an appeal; otherwise a date will be set for Byrd to turn himself in to the workhouse. In the meantime, he will remain on the same bond pending appeal.