By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - The 17-year-old who admitted killing Shoemaker High School student Benjamin Shedwin was sentenced to 15 years Friday.
The Bell County Attorney's Office offered a plea agreement to the defendant, who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter.
The teenager, who will remain unnamed by the Herald because he was 16 at the time of the shooting, was charged with murder in the Nov. 9 shooting, which occurred in the driveway of Shedwin's home in the 3400 block of Maid Marian Loop in Killeen.
Defense attorney Steve Lee said his client would be a candidate for probation, but Judge Edward Johnson told the court he could not give the defendant probation because he did not think his parents would be able to supervise him.
Shedwin's family and friends gasped and embraced each other after Johnson pronounced the sentence. The defendant's mother cried out to her son as sheriff's deputies took him into custody.
He had been out of jail on house arrest since January.
After the hearing, Shedwin's mother, Alexandria Shedwin, said the sentence brought closure to her and the many Shoemaker students who were friends with her son.
"I though he'd get 20 (years), but anything is better than probation," she said.
Johnson ordered the defendant to serve time in Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities before being transferred to the state jail system.
Though Shedwin's homicide case is closed, it still is unclear why the 16-year-old was killed.
The defendant never offered an explanation, said Alexandria Shedwin and Shoemaker students at the hearing. The limited testimony during the hearing did not shed light on the defendant's motives.
After the point-blank shooting to Shedwin's head, the shooter initially hid the handgun and told friends, family and police that Shedwin committed suicide, prosecutor Jim Murphy told the court.
The defendant later admitted shooting his friend.
Both were troubled youths. Shedwin had been to rehabilitation for drug use, and appeared to be back on the right path, his mother said. The shooter had a previous charge of criminal trespass, admitted to using marijuana since age 11 and tested positive for marijuana use after his arrest, according to testimony.
But in a psychological review, the shooter said he felt distress and depression over Shedwin's death. He also had no problems with the juvenile probation department after an initial positive drug test shortly after his arrest. Probation officers said he was always polite in their meetings, according to testimony.
The shooter will be 24 when he is eligible for parole.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.