Saying he didn't sense any remorse for the crime, Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone sentenced Jamar Mays to 10 years in prison for the shooting death of Mays' best friend, Ali Shalash, in November 2009.
Mays, 17, had initially blamed the shooting on a masked gunman, but he pleaded guilty earlier this month to second-degree involuntary manslaughter. Mays and Shalash were alone at Mays' home on Dorset Drive on Nov. 23, when Shalash, 17, suffered the fatal shot to the head.
When Mays entered his plea on Feb. 4, he told Scorsone that he and Shalash had been smoking in his room that day, and they were fooling around with a gun.
Mays said the gun "accidentally went off and shot Ali," and he said, "I'm sorry for it."
Mays' apology apparently didn't go far enough for Scorsone. The judge said during Thursday's sentencing that he was denying Mays probation because of the seriousness of the crime.
"I never detected your remorse in this horrible situation," Scorsone said. "I question whether the impact of what has happened has really registered with you."
Mays declined an offer by the judge to speak before the court.
"When you're in the courtroom, it's intimidating," especially for a juvenile, said public defender Erica Roland, one of Mays' attorneys. "We told him not to say anything."
Roland said that Mays not only had apologized the last time he was in court, but he expressed remorse when he talked to police last summer about what had happened.
Mays was indicted on a murder charge. As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to recommend that the murder charge be reduced to manslaughter. Prosecutors also recommended the dismissal of charges of tampering with evidence and being a minor in possession of a handgun. Mays was 16 when the shooting occurred.
Scorsone went along with the prosecution's recommended 10-year prison sentence. Mays would have faced 20 years to life in prison if he had been convicted of murder.
"We're still not satisfied with the 10 years," Shalash's mother, Gwendolyn Perkins, said afterward. "(Mays) has never been remorseful, never."
Perkins said her son and Mays were like brothers.
"When I see him, I see Ali because they were always together," said Perkins, who was wearing a badge with a photograph of her son and the words "Rest In Peace" on it.
But she said she didn't think her son would think 10 years is a harsh enough sentence for his friend.
Public defender Tom Griffiths, who also represented Mays, told Scorsone on Thursday that he would not ask the court to release Mays.
"Jamar needs to be able to demonstrate to the court a track record for success," he said.
Mays will appear before Scorsone again on June 9, several days after his 18th birthday. The judge will determine then whether Mays stays in a juvenile prison for five more months, goes to an adult prison or is placed on probation, Roland said.
Under Kentucky law, the judge is required to bring Mays back to court for such consideration after he reaches age 18, Griffiths said. Mays will turn 18 on June 4.
If Scorsone decides on June 9 that Mays should stay in a juvenile prison for five more months, then another hearing would be held when the five months is up to determine whether Mays should go to an adult prison or be placed on probation, Roland said.
Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.