The Newton County resident charged with the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Newton County Superior Court Friday morning.
Robert Quantrell Broughton, 21, who claimed the shooting was an accident, originally faced the more serious charges of murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm while committing a felony, possession of a firearm by an underage person and making false statements to investigators for the December 2006 death of Martia Logan of Covington.
Broughton was scheduled to go to trial the week of June 15, but the District Attorney's Office concluded after investigations with medical and crime scene investigators that, even though Broughton had fled the scene and mislead investigators about the whereabouts of the murder weapon, there was insufficient evidence to prove he intended to kill Logan, said District Attorney Ken Wynne.
The plea was offered, entered and Broughton was sentenced Friday morning.
"It all came together in the 11th hour," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Layla Zon, of the unexpected timing.
"The plea today was the result of the hard work of Layla Zon and the investigators," added Wynne.
In court, with members from both the victim and perpetrator's families present, the 21-year-old pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, possession of a firearm while committing a felony, making false statements to investigators and interfering with the investigation.
Judge John Ott sentenced him to 20 years probation with 10 years in confinement, the maximum for involuntary manslaughter. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim's family and pay the victim's funeral expenses as restitution.
The plea and sentencing didn't sit well with the victim's family who had been hoping for a trial and a longer sentence, said Martia's father Jeffery Logan.
"We didn't like it but there wasn't nothing we could do or say that was going to change what was going to happen," he said. "I was so mad. I understand they had a job to do and they did the job.
"I truly understand it may have been an accident, but you've still got to look at why did he run. Where is the gun? Where are the shell casings he shot her with? There's just a lot of unanswered questions still."
Before being taken away from the courtroom, Broughton asked the judge for permission to speak, Wynne said.
"He told (the Logans) he was very sorry for what he had done and did express remorse," Wynne said.
"He turned around and he looked our way. But I turned my head," Logan said. "He could have done this 17 months ago. His apology went on deaf ears to me and my family."
He pointed out that the Broughton family could still see their child, but that he and his wife went to the cemetery to apologize to Martia because they felt like they failed her.
Broughton was 19 years old at the time when he and Martia were at his parents' house in the early morning hours of December 21, 2006.
According to District Attorney Ken Wynne, Broughton claimed he was getting the gun back from Logan when it went off, shooting Logan in the head. Broughton reportedly woke his parents and fled the scene, hiding in different houses and eluding law enforcement before turning himself in later that morning.
Logan was declared dead when paramedics arrived after Broughton's parents called 911.
Broughton reportedly told investigators three different locations of the gun he had used, but the murder weapon was never recovered.
Broughton's mother, Trellias Evyonne Broughton, still faces a charge of making false statements to law enforcement officials, Zon said.
Clarence Benton, 17, who is charged in connection with a separate murder case for the 2007 death of Kawasikis Ricks, also faces a charge of aiding Broughton while he was on the run and was reportedly suspected of helping to dispose of the murder weapon.
His trial is set for June 15.