While a grieving mother wept, a guilty man smiled.
Danta Wright, 17, pleaded guilty to armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, felony firearm, and second-degree murder for the killing of Jordan Klee, 18, found dead on a pathway near the Pinelake Village Cooperative. Wright and two other teenagers attempted to rob Jordan when Wright shot and killed him.
Wright was accepting a plea agreement that would allow him to serve 23 to 50 years. At his sentencing, Jordan’s mother cried as her statement was read by her cousin. “This was supposed to be a year of celebration … instead it was nightmare.”
As Wright sat beside his lawyer, he shook his head and smiled, seemingly amused by the mother’s grief.
He even laughed at one point.
When given an opportunity to speak, Wright said, “I’ll be home soon. R.I.P Keon. I love my family.”
The judge responded, “That’s all you got to say?”
“Yes,” Wright answered.
It was then that Judge David S. Swartz decided to wipe the killer’s smile off his face.
“Watching you sit there, smile, and laugh and shake your head like this was no big deal, I’m very tempted to just say, ‘I’m not going to accept this sentence agreement.
“We’ll go to trial, and if you’re convicted of felony murder, you’ll go to prison for the rest of your life. That means you’ll die there.
“That’s what I’m tempted to do.”
Acting quickly, the prosecution asked for an opportunity to speak with the Klee family on whether or not they’d like to reject the plea agreement and take the case to trial. The judge granted them the time needed to have the discussion.
And then, suddenly realizing the gravity of the situation, Wright’s face fell.
No one would have blamed the Klee family if they had decided to take the case to trial. Wright’s clear lack of remorse could have driven almost anyone to gun for the maximum sentence. But when the prosecution returned, their answer was one of forgiveness.
“After a lengthy discussion with the victim’s mother, his grandparents, and family members, they understand that the defendant brutally murdered their son by shooting him in the back of the head. He had shown absolutely no remorse, he’s written rap songs about other murders and continuing killing, and throughout the victim impact statements today he smiled and laughed.
“However, the Klee family does want to move on with this and get closure with this case and they want to try and forgive this defendant and all of his actions. They are asking, as well as the people, that you proceed with the sentence agreement.”
Even the worst of us get lucky sometimes.
Wright is one of three teens to have accepted plea agreements in Jordan’s death. Jermarius Ellison, 17, and Delreno Gracey, 17, all pleaded guilty last December to armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and second-degree murder. Their sentencings are scheduled for September of this year.