DALLAS - A man who was convicted of murder when he was underage now faces charges as an adult. This time, he will not be treated as a minor.
Courtney Woods is now 20 years old and going to trial for allegedly taking part in a string of armed robberies during the summer of 2016.
After one robbery, Woods and three other suspects were captured on surveillance video in a convenience store. Two of them were using milk to clean themselves off after reportedly being maced by one of the robbery victims.
Woods and one of the others arrested for the robberies, Royneco Harris, were on parole at the time for a 2011 murder at Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s MLK Station. Their victim was 19-year-old Octavious Lanier. He was attacked by a group of boys who wanted his iPod. Lanier died after he was pushed into the side of a moving train and dragged.
The four boys charged for the attack ranged in age from 12 to 14 years old at the time. They were each given sentences of between seven and 30 years in the juvenile system. But less than five years after the murder, Woods and Harris were out on parole.
Woods has a history of violence but was given a second chance because he was a juvenile. He’s now facing the prospect of a parole revocation.
“I had to open my heart to the fact that they could be reformed,” said Takeysha Keys, Lanier’s mom. “But they have not.”
As the victims of the three hooded gunmen in 2016 testified about their ordeals in Court on Thursday, one man told jurors he was hit in the back of the head with a gun.
George Ashford represented one of the teens sent away for Lanier's murder.
“This is the fear that everybody has,” he said “They'll get a slap on the wrist. They'll get back out, and they'll commit crimes. And it’s unfortunate.”
Both Harris and Woods were given second chances after their involvement in Lanier's murder.
“Cases like this cause people to go to the legislature and say, ‘Let’s change this law because of this case,’” Ashford said.
“I just don’t want them to have the opportunity to hurt anybody else,” Keys said. “They're pointing guns. They're pushing people into trains. You know what I’m saying? They're ending people’s lives just so they can get what they want.”
Jurors are still trying to decide punishment for Woods. He could be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years or a maximum of 99 years in prison.
Harris’ trial for the robbery charges is scheduled for June 4.