A State Supreme Court justice described Lawren K. Goins' actions as savage and cowardly Tuesday before sentencing him to two 25-year terms in prison for a double shooting in 2016.
Goins, now 17, killed 16-year-old Kristian Piazza and wounded Terrell Lockett, also 16, when he shot them in the back after they left a store near Leroy Avenue and Hill Street on Oct. 13, 2016. It is believed that Goins did not even know Piazza, who was a student at Burgard High School.
Before sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Michael D. Smith, who prosecuted the case, said Piazza was one week shy of his 17th birthday when he was killed "suddenly and senselessly."
Smith asked Justice Christopher Burns to consider the maximum sentence.
Defense attorney Michael Seibert sought to portray Goins as "a good person worthy of consideration."
He said Goins had once been a good student, that he wasn't known as a trouble-maker and that the summer before the shooting he had worked as a counselor with young children in the city's summer jobs program.
He also pointed out that Goins himself was shot three times when he was 14 years old and that he had lost two cousins to gun violence, so he understood the terrible consequences of his actions on a personal level.
If true, the judge asked Goins, "Why did you do this?"
The teenager had no answer other than "I don't know" and said that he acted out of emotion.
Burns responded that he considered the crime barbaric – "to shoot people in the back because they are from another neighborhood."
Goins initially had been charged with murder, which has a maximum possible sentence of 25 years to life in prison, but he was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter in Piazza's death and attempted murder for shooting Lockett. The judge opted for the maximum sentence on each conviction, with the terms to run concurrently.
In denying Goins youthful offender status, Burns told him, "As it is, the gang culture will go on and you'll soon be forgotten, and then another young man will come up and will be in court to take your place."