Thursday, May 28, 2009
Teenager sentenced to 50 years
By SUE WATSON
Two families were in Marshall County Circuit Court Friday to hear the plea of Remill Cortez Mason, a Byhalia teenager, in the killing of Terrell Richmond, a high school student who was shot at his computer in June 2008.
Mason entered a guilty plea on one count manslaughter and one count kidnapping and was sentenced by Judge Robert Elliott to a total of 50 years - 20 years on the manslaughter charge and 30 years on the kidnapping charge. The sentences will run consecutively.
In exchange for his plea to the two charges, the state withdrew a capital murder charge which can result in the death penalty. Mason waived his constitutional right to a grand jury hearing and a trial.
Mason, then age 15, shot the 17-year-old Richmond in the back of the head at gunpoint as he sat at his computer in his home in Byhalia, according to district attorney Ben Creekmore.
Naomi Richmond, aunt of the victim, read the following composition at the sentencing of Mason. It was composed by the friends and family of Terrell Richmond, who wore the number 50 on his football jersey for the Byhalia Indians.
Naomi Richmond said the statement was written in an attempt by the family to help other juveniles to avoid the temptation to commit a senseless act.
“Your family and mine are in so much pain,” she read. “It was a senseless act, with everything to lose and nothing to gain.
“When Terrell departed this life, all of his potential went with him. We can’t begin to imagine what possibilities we buried in his grave. He had only just begun. He was finally becoming confident in his identity and discovering his unique talents, gifts and abilities. If he would have had time to learn and grow, he would have become more than we will ever know.
“What gave you the right to judge that he was not fit to live? How dare you, without reason, willfully and deliberately, end this young man's life? Was it worth it?
“You must know, your families probably wanted the same things for you that we wanted for Rel. We looked forward to the completion of his high school years, his graduation, college, establishing the career of his choice, marriage, children, becoming an active and vital part of his community, and enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Rel won’t be able to do those things now, and most likely you won’t either. In ending his life you also greatly diminished your own.
“There is no way to erase what has been done. Nothing can ever replace a mother’s son.
“There are many ways to resolve differences, so many options for resolving problems, yet, you chose a permanent solution for a temporary problem. You could have looked, and you should have looked, for a better way.
“Yesterday is gone, and we must find healing in time. The choices that we make in the days ahead will determine our future. We will all have many, many choices to make in life. Please understand: choices have consequences! Before you even begin to plan something that is seriously stupid, you need to stop and ask yourself, ‘Is it worth it?’”
Creekmore said after the sentencing of Mason that the case points out how lives of the victim and the defendant are ruined as a result of a violent crime.
“The pain caused by Terrell Richmond’s death will never end,” he said. “I just hope we never have to deal with another case like this.”
He said he believes the statement read by Richmond’s aunt could have a lasting impact on someone’s life.
“I thought it was an excellent tribute to that young man (Terrell) and I thought it might make a difference to kids out there who are on the verge of making an irrevocable mistake,” Creekmore said. “The family of Terrell Richmond have shown so much character and have been an inspiration to our office during this tragic event.”
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