A 16-year-old boy was sentenced Thursday to 11 years of incarceration after pleading guilty in the 2015 shooting death of a Lexington man who hoped to one day help troubled youths and reduce violence.
Christopher Bravo, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, was initially charged with murder and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of Andres Soto Jr., 20.
Bravo pleaded guilty on Dec. 14 to second-degree manslaughter and tampering with evidence. On Thursday, he was sentenced to 10 years for the manslaughter charge and one year for the tampering charge. He could get out as early as next year.
Soto had been near a food truck on Oxford Circle with his cousin during the early-morning hours of Dec. 7, 2015, when he was shot. Soto had overcome adversity to earn the respect and care of his Learning Center teachers and mentors, and he had hoped to counsel teens and prevent violence.
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Prosecutors said during previous court hearings that Bravo had fired his gun because someone standing near Soto had pulled a gun and held it at his side, WKYT reported.
“Everybody loses in these situations,” Jerry Wright, Bravo’s attorney, said Thursday. “We have one family who has lost a loved one forever, we have another family who loses their child for a period of time. It’s going to be a lifetime problem for (Bravo) as well. Everybody is remorseful, but there’s no way to take it back.”
Bravo has served 415 days with the Department of Juvenile Justice since being charged, Wright said. By the time he turns 18 in September 2018 and is re-sentenced as an adult, he will be eligible for both probation and parole.
While in the juvenile detention center, Bravo has taken high school classes. Judge James Ishmael noted that Bravo earned three As and two Bs in his most recent classes and said that his decisions on the night of the shooting were a “waste.”
Just before the shooting, Bravo had been driving a van about 3 a.m.
“That is a recipe for disaster, and unfortunately disaster happened,” Ishmael said. “There’s no reason and there’s no excuse for a 15-year-old to be driving a van with a gun at that time of the morning. Nothing good was going to happen. Nothing.”
When Bravo is sentenced as an adult in 2018, the court has the option of immediate probation, Wright said. Because he will have served almost three years by that time, he also will be eligible for parole.
Soto’s family and Bravo’s family were in the courtroom Thursday.
“I have reviewed the many letters from Soto’s family,” Ishmael said. “I am moved and so very, very sorry. I wish something else could be done.”