Judge slams door on killer dad
Jamar Pinkney Sr. to 37-82 years in prison on Thursday for fatally shooting his teenage son in a Highland Park vacant lot. (Clarence Tabb, Jr./ The Detroit News)
The Detroit News
APRIL 15, 2010
Detroit — A father, who admitted beating, stripping and marching his naked teenage son into an empty lot in Highland Park where he executed the kneeling youth with a bullet to the face, was ordered today to serve 37 to 82 years behind bars.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan issued the guideline-busting sentence to Jamar Pinkney Sr. because the judge said the complete horror of the case couldn’t be taken into consideration by the rules used to determine sentences under state law.
“This is the kind of a situation that before this time would not have emerged except in some great tragedy,” Sullivan said. “No one has the right to deprive a person of life because of anger.”
Pinkney, 37, was found guilty of second-degree murder earlier this month after admitting on the witness stand that he shot 15-year-old Jamar Pinkney Jr. on Nov. 16.
Pinkney testified that he had an “out-of-body experience” and uncontrolled rage when during a long family gathering over allegations that the teenager had rubbed a 3-year-old half-sister in a sexual way — the boy, Pinkney said, admitted he had sex with the toddler. All other family members who witnessed the confrontation said the boy never admitted more than inappropriate sexual touching.
Members of the family had gathered to discuss what to do — seek counseling or criminal charges. The son and daughter have different mothers who also differed on the course to pursue.
Witnesses testified the teen at first denied any contact but eventually begged for his father’s forgiveness. They testified that Pinkney erupted in homicidal rage, cursing his son, beating him and ordering him to strip. Pinkney said he didn’t realize what he was doing despite pleas from his son and others to stop.
Jurors had deadlocked 10-2 on convicting Pinkney of first-degree murder, which would have sent him to prison for life without chance of parole, but the majority compromised on the lesser charge, according to the jury’s forewoman.
Pinkney addressed the judge today before being sentenced, explaining he showed little emotion during the trial because he was trying to “hold my head up high.” He assured the judge today he loved his son.
“I am truly sorry for what I did,” he said before apologizing to family members who crowded the courtroom wearing T-shirts emblazoned with photos of Jamar Pinkney Jr. “I’m sad about losing my son … I am horrified by what I did. … I hope one day I could be a responsible parent again, a responsible citizen.”
But the judge, who said there was never any established proof the teenager actually raped the girl, explained the son had admitted his wrongdoing and turned to his trusted role models for guidance. Sullivan concluded, “Instead of giving the type of parental conduct and guidance designed to be for Jamar Pinkney Jr.’s good, he carried an anger with him.”
With the sentence issued today, Pinkney’s lawyer, Corbett Edge O’Meara, said he will be eligible for parole on Nov. 15, 2046, when he is 75 years old.
“I’m glad with the sentence,” the boy’s mother, Lazette Cherry, said while holding a football-uniformed teddy bear that played a recording of her son’s voice copied from his cell phone voicemail.
“This is all I have of my son,” Cherry said, squeezing the bear and listening to the bright voice say, “This is Jamar.”
The judge said the guidelines, which originally called for a sentence of 19 to 31 years, didn’t account for the horror the mother witnessed and for Pinkney ignoring pleas of the mother and other relatives to stop and consider what he was doing.
Pinkney also was convicted of three counts of assault for threatening the others with his the handgun, which he had a license to carry. Sentences of two to four years are to be served concurrently with the sentence for second-degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony crime.
He also was ordered to pay $6,600 for his son’s funeral expenses.
Pinkney’s other lawyer, David Draper, said he expects an appeal of the sentence will be filed on behalf of Pinkney, who has been in jail since turning himself in hours after the slaying.
Assistant Prosecutor Christine Kowal said Pinkney has been remorseless even in recorded jailhouse telephone conversations in which she said he never asked about his son’s funeral and referred to the slaying as “the situation that happened.” Jurors never heard the recordings.
“He doesn’t have any remorse,” Cherry said after the sentencing. “He only said those things because he thought he had to in front of the judge. If you love your son, you don’t kill him.”