A 15-year-old boy who killed good Samaritan Georgia Dianne Woods as she assisted a robbery victim last November was sentenced to nine years to life in prison today.
Sean Smith, who was 14 when he shot Woods, offered a courtroom apology to members of her distraught family and told State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti he is ready to accept responsibility for his act of violence.
State mandates prevented Rossetti from imposing a longer sentence because Smith is younger than 16. The boy previously had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
Benjamin Sweetwine, Smith's unarmed accomplice in the Nov. 10 holdup of Mario Shepard, the man whom Woods helped after Smith and Sweetwine robbed him of his jewelry and leather coat, was sentenced to nine years in prison on his guilty plea to first-degree robbery.
Terrell Hale, 18, was sentenced to 3 1/3 years in prison for the Dec. 3 shooting of the 21-year-old Shepard. Hale, Smith's cousin, initially was charged with first-degree attempted murder for shooting Shepard, the only eyewitness to the killing of the 40-year-old Woods.
A jury, however, acquitted Hale of that charge and found him guilty of lesser charges -- second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Hale could have been sentenced to 15 years.
Outside the courtroom, Shepard said he was worried for his safety because of the light sentence for Hale.
"It should have been a much higher sentence. I hope he does change while he is in prison," Shepard said. "I don't see how you can shoot someone from behind and it's just an assault."
Hale shot Shepard in the back of his right arm on Dec. 3 while Shepard was walking along Rawlins Avenue.
Less than a month before that, Shepard was robbed by Smith and Sweetwine at Brinkman Avenue and Doat Street. Woods, driving by in her van, witnessed the crime and came to Shepard's assistance.
Woods pulled Shepard into her vehicle and called police on her cell phone. When she then confronted Smith, he pointed a .38-caliber handgun at her and shot her in the head.