PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. - A Maryland family is devastated.
On Tuesday, family members of King Douglas packed a Prince George’s County courtroom for the sentencing of the 14-year-old who shot their kin.
Police say when the teenager was just 12 years old, he shot and killed a 13-year-old King Douglas.
Tuesday's hearing was a tense and emotional almost two hours in Prince George’s County court for the Douglas family seeking justice.
Those on both sides of the courtroom cried and could be seen trembling. Others bowed their heads to pray several times throughout the hearing.
The victim’s family wanted a tougher penalty for the teen. The judge told the court it’s his job to follow Maryland law when it comes to juveniles. He ordered the 14-year-old to indefinite supervised probation.
The States Attorney's office had requested that the teen be held at a juvenile corrections facility, but in making the decision, the judge sided with juvenile services.
The 14-year-old must undergo both family and individual counseling and anger management. He'll also have a GPS monitoring device put back on.
The victim’s family gasped in court when it was confirmed he was currently out in the community without any type of monitoring device.
More supporters for Douglas than could fit into the allowed side of the courtroom packed several pews. Family members wore the victim’s picture on their shirts to make sure everyone saw King’s face at the sentencing. The slain victim would have turned 15 years old Tuesday.
Some people stormed out of the courtroom when the sentencing came down. Frustrated with the county’s push for rehabilitation, Douglas’ mother wanted a tougher sentence to serve as an example to any future youth engaging in this type of violence.
A "slap in the face," is what Ja’Ka McKnight, Douglas' mom, called the sentence.
"To completely allow this boy to have freedom after a murder and saying, ‘You know I understand how serious the crime is,’ and then allow this boy -- there is no worse crime than murder. And you allowed this child to get off a murder case that he admitted to. It’s crazy to me," McKnight said. "It’s heartbreaking. It’s sad. I’m worried. I’m really worried for our juveniles."
On April 17, 2021, while McKnight said her son was out of school because of COVID, the Maryland mother says her son had asked to go hang out with friends.
In court Tuesday, Douglas’ father explained that was something his son rarely does.
McKnight said she dropped him off at the Capitol Heights Dave & Busters. Later that evening, police responded to Ritchie Station Court where they found the then 13-year-old shot and unresponsive. Officials say a fight erupted between two groups. The suspect’s friend was reportedly stabbed in that fight.
When FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts first reported on this incident, she learned from police that a 12-year-old boy later confessed to shooting Douglas and that a friend had handed him the gun. In court, that gun was described to be loaded with hollow-point bullets. The victim shot in the back.
Maryland has strict juvenile privacy rules. FOX 5 is prohibited by the court from identifying the shooter even though he confessed and has now been sentenced.
It was also noted in court, if he were to plead guilty to second-degree murder as an adult, the 14-year-old could be looking at a max sentence of 40 years behind bars.
The judge said in his decision that the 14-year-old has not had any incidents in the several months since he’s been released.
Over the phone, the public defender representing the teen called the whole situation horrible but emphasized that after the shooting, the 14-year-old was found to be incompetent, not understanding of what was happening for about a year.
The public defender said that was because he was so young – and also said the decision recognizes there’s been a lot of growth. That attorney said she cannot fix what happened but was "impressed on how well he’s worked on self-improvement."