Four teens involved in Michigan overpass rock throwing incident that killed a young father to be sentenced as adults
FLINT, MICHIGAN: Four Michigan teens who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a highway rock throwing incident that led to the death of a young father will be sentenced as adults, a judge has ruled.
During a hearing this past Tuesday, July 23, Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah rejected the request of the defense to sentence Mark Sekelsky, 18, Mikadyn Payne, 17, Trevor Gray, 16, and Alexzander Miller, 16, as juveniles in the October 2017 death of Kenneth White, 27, according to ABC News.
On October 18, 2017, at around 8:30 pm, White and his friend Steve Amthor were driving home from work, heading south on the I-75 at 70 mph, and were minutes from the former's home when a six-pound rock hurtled towards their van.
White, who was in the passenger seat, was first struck in the face before the rock ricocheted to his chest. He was knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy found the 27-year-old had suffered lacerations and abrasions to the head and face, as well as a skull fracture and injury to the brain. The rock had also broken his clavicle and upper ribs, and the cause of death was declared as a homicide.
A fifth suspect -- Kyle Anger, 18 at the time of the incident -- is the one accused of throwing the rock that killed White. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for other charges being dropped. He is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.
All five had initially been charged as adults with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, six felony counts of malicious destruction of property, and two misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of property but took a plea and pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter in July 2018.
Farah rejected the advice of all the professional juvenile experts who testified at the sentencing hearing and recommended juvenile sentencing, stating that, while none had hurled the fatal rock, neither had they been forced to be there.
He said the teens had not only thrown rocks, but also tire irons, mufflers, and even a shopping cart. He also referred to two days of SnapChat messages the teens had exchanged amongst themselves in which "the letters 'LOL,' 'LMAO' or 'HAHA' appear ... and many after it was learned that they had killed somebody."
"The seriousness of the alleged offense is as high as it gets," he announced. "This is a homicide."
He gave the defense until August 20 to withdraw their pleas in light of the decision that they will be sentenced as adults.
The lawyers for the teens expressed their disappointment at the decision. "You have a person whose life was taken," attorney Frank Marley said. "Now we have four young boys whose lives may be taken. So to sit here and say this is somehow a win for one side or the other, it’s not. It’s very sad all across the board."
Meanwhile, Theresa Simpson, White's mother, told WXYZ-TV that she was pleased with the ruling. "I'm so glad that Kenneth is getting the justice he deserves. ... My prayers were answered," she said. "I'm ecstatic over the decision that was made today. ... It's what we all wanted for him."