Horace Amerson sent his condolences to the family of the man he helped kill, saying he empathized with them.
Somehow, it did little to comfort them.
Shirley Maxwell stood in court Tuesday and spoke of the searing pain her family has felt since her son Jarrod Maxwell died.
“I think about my son everyday,” Shirley Maxwell said. “There is no closure. The word don't exist. You did it. And I hope God make you pay.”
Douglas County District Judge Greg Schatz made Amerson pay – sentencing him to the maximum 45- year term under a plea bargain prosecutors reached.
The term means that Amerson, 28, will not be eligible for parole until he serves 25 years.
With that, Amerson dropped his chin to his chest, shook his head and trudged out of the courtroom. He had spoken earlier of his regret over his actions.
On a March day in 2011, Amerson got out of his car and fired as he stood on a slight hill overlooking the parking lot of Family Dollar near 30th Street and Newport Avenue. Amerson rattled off 12 shots – and one of them struck Jarrod Maxwell in the head.
The shooting was a case of mistaken identity. Amerson had been hoping to avenge the fatal shooting of his brother, Jonas Amerson.
However, prosecutor Jim Masteller said, Maxwell, 36, had nothing to do with Jonas Amerson's death.
Prosecutors struck a plea bargain with Amerson in which they agreed to reduce his charge from first-degree murder to manslaughter. Masteller said they did so after questions emerged about the stories given by Amerson's codefendant Markus L. Walker.
During an eight-hour interrogation, Walker gave varying accounts of the shooting – at one point saying he and Amerson played hot potato with the gun in the car as they fled the scene.
Prosecutors had no DNA or fingerprint tests to corroborate Walker's account that Amerson fired the shot that killed Maxwell.
In court Tuesday, Shirley Maxwell described the void left by her son's killing. Maxwell's two young daughters were in court, as were his brothers.
At one point, she asked Amerson if he realized that she knows the Amerson family, including his mother.
“You don't know what you did to my family,” Shirley Maxwell said. “I know your family. I know your mama. They need to hurt just as bad as we do. Not saying you should be shot but you should sit in jail – forever.
“You don't know what you did. You just don't know.”