News & Politics

Ohio Teens Given Suspended Sentences for Dropping Sandbag Off Overpass That Killed Man

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Four Ohio teenagers who pleaded guilty to murder and manslaughter charges after dropping a sandbag off of a highway overpass that killed a man have been given suspended sentences by the judge.

The teens, all minors, were also ordered into a program at a treatment facility and given 30 hours of community service.

CNN:

“The youth treatment center is a lockdown facility in Toledo. The program runs six months, but there is no set time to release. The average youth spends eight months there,” Lori Olender, juvenile division deputy chief for the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office, said in an email.

Besides being ordered to the youth treatment facility, the teenagers were given four-year suspended sentences, placed on probation and ordered to perform 30 hours of community service, Olender said.

One was charged with murder and felonious assault and three were charged with involuntary manslaughter and vehicular vandalism, she said. All four pleaded guilty, The Toledo Blade newspaper reported.

The youths were charged after a sandbag dropped from an interstate overpass crashed through the window of a vehicle below and hit Marquise Byrd, 22, on December 19, 2017. He died later at a hospital.

Three of the teens were 14 when the incident happened and one was 13, authorities said. CNN has not identified them by name because they are minors.

Lillian Diallo, an attorney for the Byrd family, told CNN Saturday that she found the sentence to be “extremely light.”

Just what are these kids going to be treated for? Negligence? Irresponsibility? If they aren’t aware at age 13 or 14 that dropping a sandbag off of an overpass onto speeding traffic is wrong, what can a treatment center give them?

Byrd had been preparing to propose to his girlfriend and the mother of his 2-year-old son, Diallo said.

“This is tragic all the way around,” Diallo said. “The fiancée didn’t even know she was going to be a fiancée. To steal that from somebody is just horrific.”

The boys had been walking to a store to purchase candy before they crossed the overpass and began throwing rocks, the Blade reported.

During previous court hearings, two boys admitted to throwing two different sandbags, the Blade reported. A sandbag landed on the side of the road and another one on Byrd’s vehicle.

Throwing rocks at cars just didn’t give them enough of a thrill so they threw sandbags.

What is justice? I don’t see how you can possibly argue that the victim of this crime received any justice at all. And if there’s no justice for the victim, how is the community served?

I don’t have much sympathy for these kids. They made a choice that ended the life of one person and altered the lives of several others. To my mind, they are suffering no consequences for this choice and the judge is sending the worst possible message by suspending their sentences.