April 7 (UPI) — Four Ohio teens charged with murder after tossing a sandbag onto a highway were given a suspended sentence and ordered to a treatment center on Friday.
The four Toledo boys, aged 13 to 15 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty pleaded guilty to either murder or manslaughter for their part in the crime, which killed 22-year-old Marquise Byrd.
The boy who dropped the sandbag pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to the Department of Youth Services until he turns 21. The other three pleaded to involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to three years in the Department of Youth Services.
The sandbag was tossed onto Interstate 75 from the Indiana Avenue bridge at about 10:10 p.m. Dec. 19. It smashed through the windshield of the vehicle Byrd was a passenger in, causing him blunt-force trauma to the head and neck.
Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon called the actions senseless, irresponsible, and impulsive but said the sentencing would give the youth a better chance of turning their life around.
“It’s a treatment facility, for certain services, to provide so these boys change their behavior and can become productive members of our community,” Cubbon said.
Lillian Diallo, the Byrd family’s lawyer, called the decision “outrageous.”
“So eight months you get to go home?” Diallo told WTVG. “His mother will never be able to say, ‘Hey son, how are you? How’s your day?’ Touch his face, see his face. This is outrageous.”
Lori Olender, deputy chief of the county’s juvenile division, pleaded with the judge to take into consideration the 30 victim-impact statements and said to “please send a message to the community and to the four boys” that this incident is not a childish prank but a homicide.
“Whether the crime is called involuntary manslaughter or murder, it all comes down to the same thing, your Honor: an innocent man has lost his life,” Olender said. “No matter how much time is given in this case, four juveniles will eventually be reunited with their family, but Marquise Byrd will not.”