A trick-or-treating teenager who shot at another group of teens on Halloween 2010, killing one, was sentenced to 115 years in prison Thursday by a Baltimore County judge.
Sterlin Corday Matthews, 19, was found guilty in October of second-degree murder and other charges in the killing of Dequan Burks. On the night of Burks' death, Matthews was wearing a "Hellraiser" mask with pins protruding from it when his group of friends encountered a group of teens that had crossed into their neighborhood.
Matthews' attorney, William R. Buie III, said the 115-year sentence was excessive. A juvenile at the time of the shootings, Matthews was tried as an adult.
"The purpose of incarceration should not only be punishment and public safety, but it should also be rehabilitation," Buie said. "This is a young man who made a very severe mistake in his life. However, he's so young there's a possibility his life could be redeemed."
Baltimore County jurors spent less than an hour deliberating in the case, in which they heard how Matthews ran across Burks, 16, and his friends while trick-or-treating. A witness testified that she saw Matthews following her group and heard shots. Burks was later found dead in front of a rowhouse in Baltimore County. Police discovered bags of candy nearby.
Two other teens in his group were shot but survived, though prosecutors say one victim will carry a bullet inside his body for the rest of his life.
Prosecutors had called the shootings "senseless." Prosecutor Danielle Williams said the state reminded the judge Thursday of Matthews' "lack of remorse."
The state's attorney's office had offered Matthews a deal before trial in which he would serve 15 years in prison, but Matthews did not accept the deal. Buie said he tried to argue that his refusal showed that Matthews did not fully understand the consequences of his actions.
"A rational person would have decided to take the plea," Buie said.
A previous trial had ended in a hung jury, but this time, prosecutors presented evidence that Matthews attempted to intimidate witnesses from the Baltimore County Detention Center.
At the trial, prosecutors played jailhouse phone calls between Matthews and his friends in which Matthews tried to get help stopping witnesses from testifying in court. Matthews' attorneys acknowledged that that helped jurors decide he was guilty.