DANVILLE — Alvin C. Beasley apologized Tuesday to the family of a 17-year-old Danville man whom he shot to death two days before Christmas 2011.
But Tammy Lynn Johnson, the teen's mother, said she doesn't believe Beasley's apology was sincere, or that his sentence for second-degree murder in the death of her son, Deryon S. Mullins, was harsh enough.
"It is what it is" was all Johnson could muster as she left the courtroom.
Moments earlier, Vermilion County Circuit Judge Michael Clary sentenced Beasley, 27, of Danville, to 24 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the crime.
Beasley was credited with already having served 230 days behind bars. He is eligible to receive one day of credit for each day of good conduct in prison and jail, so he could be released much earlier.
Beasley originally was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in Mr. Mullins' death. The teen was shot shortly after midnight on Dec. 23 outside of his home at 20 Quincy St. When police arrived, they found the teen's body inside his home. An autopsy showed he died of a gunshot wound to the back.
Beasley fled the scene but was nabbed in a nightclub in Joplin, Mo., on Dec. 28. He was brought back to Vermilion County and arraigned on the murder charges on Jan. 9.
At Beasley's trial in late June, several witnesses testified that a group of teens who had been at Mr. Mullins' house were in the street when a neighbor, Beasley's brother, came outside and complained his house had been broken into, and televisions and other items had been stolen. A short while later, a car drove up, Beasley got out holding a gun and ended up firing a shot that hit Mr. Mullins.
Beasley testified he went to the scene after his brother called him about the break-in, then grabbed the gun and got out of the car upon seeing the crowd. He said he pointed the gun at a group of people coming toward him because he feared for his safety, but he didn't mean to fire it.
On June 28, the jury convicted Beasley of the lesser charge, meaning they believed that at the time of the shooting, he thought his actions were justifiable, even though the belief was unreasonable.
At his sentencing hearing, Vermilion County Assistant State's Attorney Sandy Lawlyes argued that Beasley should be sentenced to 30 years in prison. While the maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 20 years, she said he was eligible to receive an extended 10-year term because of his prior conviction for armed robbery, a Class X felony.
Defense attorney Larry Mills argued again that his client thought he was defending himself and his brother.
While handing down a 30-year sentence wasn't appropriate, Clary said a stiff one was needed to deter others. He also said Beasley's multiple convictions show he hasn't learned from his mistakes, and even spending eight years in prison hasn't kept him from continuing to break the law.
Prior to being sentenced, Beasley turned to face Johnson and Mr. Mullins' brother, Derrick Mullins Jr.
"I'm sorry about what happened that night," he said. "I hope God won't hold this against me forever I hope you all forgive me and help me move on, and hopefully you all can move on."
Earlier, Johnson took the witness stand and struggled to read a victim-impact statement she had written to Clary.
She recalled losing her mother to cancer. "I thought that would be the worst thing that could happen to me," she said, through tears. But she said that happened when her son was killed.
She recalled coming home from work on the night of her son's death and bawling him out for having friends over when she wasn't home. She said she talked to him briefly on the phone before the shooting.
"I told him I loved him and to be very careful. I said, 'There's crazy people out there,'" she said. "Who would think that would be the last time I would see or talk to my son? It just hurts way more than anyone can even imagine."