After the sentencing of two teens responsible for the death of her 18-year-old son, Paulette Goode was overwhelmed with sadness. Not just for her son, Kozar, who was shot in the back during an attempted robbery in 2003, but also for one of the 17-year-olds who received prison terms yesterday.
"I wanted to go up and hug him," Goode said of Ronald Deondre Evans, 17, who was convicted of first-degree murder in February. "I wanted to take care of him."
While Evans apologized yesterday to Kozar Tyrone Goode's family for his role in the killing, the teen who prosecutors said fired the gun, Eric Gerard Atkinson, expressed no such remorse.
Atkinson received a sentence of life in prison in the Sept. 7, 2003, killing. Evans also received a life term but with all but 35 years suspended.
Atkinson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in April. Yesterday prosecutors noted that Atkinson is serving a life sentence, suspended after 70 years, for attempted first-degree murder and kidnapping in Baltimore. That incident was three days after Goode's death, said Michelle Samoryk, an assistant state's attorney.
In that case, Atkinson beat a man, shot him, slit his throat and tried to set him on fire, Samoryk said. His brother, Damon Atkinson, was the driver in the Goode killing and was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in February.
Eric Atkinson has not shown remorse for either incident, Samoryk told Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert E. Cadigan. Atkinson was the ringleader of a group of young men who called themselves the Death Squad and drove around in a stolen minivan looking for people to rob, prosecutors have said.
Goode was killed after refusing to hand over his wallet and backpack to the pair while walking to his parents' home in Parkville, prosecutors have said.
"Kozar did not resist them," Samoryk said. "All he tried to do was walk away."
Goode's mother, sister and father talked during the hearing about Goode's daughter, Kozaras, 1. They also said Goode was a "nerd" who loved computers and computer games. "Had you known him, you would have been friends for life," Paulette Goode said as she swiveled the chair on the witness stand to face Atkinson.
Atkinson's attorney, Larry Polen, had asked for the sentence to be served concurrently with the life term in the Baltimore case. But Cadigan ruled that the sentence will be served consecutively. That means Atkinson would not be eligible for parole for about 25 years, said Stephen Bailey, deputy state's attorney.
Evans, who admitted to being with Atkinson and exiting the van with him the night of the killing, could be eligible for parole in 12 years.
During the separate sentencings, the two teens behaved differently. Atkinson mostly looked at the defense table. He declined to address the court. Evans, however, turned from the defense table to apologize to the Goode family.
"I ask for your forgiveness," the slight teen said quietly. "Only you and God can forgive me."
Even as he was being taken away, Evans looked at the Goodes. Paulette Goode said that listening to Evans was hard. She said she was moved by his attorney's assertion that he has no one who cares about him, no family members who have ever come to court or assisted with his defense.
"It's sad," Paulette Goode said. "I'm hurting, not just for my son, but for him."