A Pleasant Grove teen charged with murder in the death of an Anniston man could face a maximum punishment of three years for the crime if a Calhoun County judge approves an application for youthful offender status.
If the teen is granted the status, which his lawyer argued for in court Wednesday, records would also be sealed from public view, according to state law.
James Byrd Jr., 36, was shot and killed in August at a shopping center near the intersection of Glade Road East and Weaver Road in Lenlock. Police responded to the scene and discovered Byrd in his Dodge Caliber after customers at a Sonic drive-in across the street heard gunfire.
U.S. Marshals arrested Lequinton Jermaine King, 19, at his home in Pleasant Grove on a warrant in connection with the death of Byrd in October, police have said. In November, King waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case went to a grand jury, which indicted the teen on a murder charge in February.
King’s Birmingham attorney, Emory Anthony Jr., filed a request for the youthful offender hearing in March. On Wednesday, immediate family for both King and Byrd sat in the courtroom to hear testimony, but the courtroom was closed to anyone else.
Eric Snyder, a prosecutor with the Calhoun County District Attorney’s Office, said after the hearing that his office opposed youthful offender status for King. Snyder declined to comment further on the case or the hearing.
Efforts to reach King’s attorney on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
If Circuit Judge Bud Turner grants King youthful offender status, available for defendants under 21, the case would cease to be in the public view and records would be sealed.
With youthful offender status, King would also be afforded the right to a trial without a jury, if he doesn’t plead guilty to the crime, according to state law. If found guilty of the crime as a youthful offender, King’s punishment would also be limited to three years in prison or probation and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Turner said he’d take time to consider the case against King before issuing a ruling on the teen’s status.