Lexington man sentenced to 25 years in teen's murder in 2012

jmadden@herald-leader.comFebruary 28, 2014 

Jaleel Raglin's parents sat in the first two rows in the courtroom Friday afternoon waiting for their son's killer to be sentenced.

Tammy Adams and Charles Raglin were joined by nearly a dozen friends and relatives. Some leaned forward. Others sat with their hands folded as they waited for Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell to sentence Malik Shabazz Johnson for killing Raglin in 2012.

Bunnell, calling the case "very sad" for all parties involved, sentenced Johnson to 25 years in prison.

Raglin, 16, was visiting his girlfriend at the Matador North apartment complex on Winburn Drive on Sept. 25 when Johnson shot him in the head.

Johnson, 21, was convicted earlier this year of murder and tampering with evidence. The jury recommended he spend 25 years in prison for murder and an additional year for the tampering charge. The judge went with that recommendation, and ruled that the sentences be served concurrently.

Afterward, Raglin's parents told the Herald-Leader that Johnson got off easy. The sentence was bittersweet for them because their son's life was cut short and, Adams said, Johnson "still gets to live life."

"We still celebrate at a cemetery," she said. "Our son was 16; he had years of life. So, to me, the crime should equal the punishment. I understand he made a bad choice, but we taught our son accountability. The justice system isn't teaching him accountability."

Before he was sentenced, Johnson, who was wearing an orange jumpsuit, appeared to be calm. He remained quiet throughout the proceeding and his attorney, Robin Slater, spoke on his behalf.

Slater asked Bunnell to impose the jury's recommendation.

"Obviously it's a very sad case," she told the judge. "A very young victim, obviously lost in the situation."

Bunnell agreed.

"This is very sad for the victim, victim's family, victim's friends; very sad for you, very sad for your family and your friends," the judge said.

Afterward, Slater said she will file an appeal because there are a lot of "issues still unresolved in this case."

Slater said there was a third person involved who had gun residue on his hands the night Raglin was shot. During the trial, that person invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the jury wasn't allowed to hear his testimony, she said. That person was never charged.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Katie Adams said they respected the jury's decision and feel that justice was served.

There will never be closure for Raglin's family, but moving forward Tammy Adams said she's joined an organization with other mothers who have lost a son. She visits the cemetery often and plans celebrations for their son who aspired to be a rapper.

Charles Raglin remembers his son through photographs and thinks about the rap lyrics in Jaleel's notebook. But he can't get past the day he received the phone call of his son's murder.

"When I got there, they had already taken my son away," he said before breaking into tears.

Adams said she was struggling, too.

"I mean it's not easy ... I had to see my baby laid out on a slab with a tube in his mouth," she said. "That's the last vision I have of my kid."

Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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