YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A man who prosecutors said fired the fatal shot in a fight between two rival families during an August 2014 riot was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Marty Desmond told the court that he did not believe the gunman intended to kill anyone. But authorities said cell phone video shows David Jenkins, who was 17 at the time, firing the shot that killed Shawn Cortez, also 17, during that riot.
Investigators said the incident on Winona Drive had actually started months previously as a dispute between the defendant and the victim. It quickly escalated from there.
“Over the years, it progressed and got worse and worse and worse, to the point where, the day before there was a fight, the police were called,” Desmond said.
Prosecutors said the day of the shooting, Jenkins and Cortez had prearranged to fight each other, but that quickly turned into a riot and, when the crowd starting running toward Jenkins, he started shooting.
“If I could take it back, I would,” Jenkins told the court. “I hope they find it in their hearts to forgive me. I know that’s going to be hard, because, at times, I find it hard to forgive myself.”
Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Lou D’Apolitio said a gun never should have been taken to a fist fight, however. Judge D’Apolitio, who presided over most of the defendants charged in the Winona riot said this was another tragic example of guns that are too easy to access and end up in the wrong hands — with deadly results.
“A split-second decision is why we’re here, and unfortunately, anybody that will listen, split-second decisions are what our lives are all about,” he said.
With 15 years in prison, Jenkins received the harshest sentence in the case. His mother insisted that her son is innocent, and she is now considering an appeal.