Teen convicted in friend's slaying to continue treatment

Shalash's family hears first public 'I'm sorry' for best friend's death

jkegley@herald-leader.comJune 10, 2011 

For the first time, a Lexington teen who shot and killed his best friend publicly apologized to the victim's family.

Jamar Mays, 18, told Ali Shalash's family — his mother, Gwendolyn Perkins, in particular — he was sorry during a sentencing hearing Thursday.

"I want to apologize to Miss Gwen for my mistake," he said. "I hope they can forgive me."

Mays was in court Thursday because he was sentenced while he was a juvenile. Under state statute, a juvenile who is sentenced as an adult must have another sentencing hearing after he or she turns 18.

Mays was initially charged with murder after blaming the 2009 shooting on a masked man. He pleaded guilty in February to an amended charge of second-degree involuntary manslaughter, admitting a gun he was handling fired and the bullet hit Shalash in the head.

Before pleading guilty, Mays admitted to police he made up the story about the masked man, his attorneys have said.

Mays, who turned 18 Saturday, spoke to Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone during Thursday's hearing. Mays was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter and was admitted to a juvenile facility. Mays' attorneys, public defenders Tom Griffiths and Erica Roland, asked the judge to allow Mays to continue a counseling program at a juvenile facility in Louisville for at least five more months.

Griffiths said after the hearing attorneys could have asked the judge for probation or to have Mays sent to an adult facility.

But Mays has been "performing perfectly" in the juvenile program, Griffiths said after the hearing.

Mays told the judge he was learning "accountability" and "taking responsibility" for his actions.

"We think that Jamar benefits and the community benefits" from Jamar's completion of the program, Griffiths said.

Scorsone agreed and scheduled a status hearing for Nov. 3.

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