A Lexington teen who was incarcerated for nearly two years for the November 2009 shooting death of his best friend was granted probation Thursday.
Rather than send Jamar Mays to an adult prison, Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone gave Mays five years' probation. He ordered Mays to do 30 hours of community service each week until he finds a job or enrolls in a school. And Scorsone said Mays cannot be around guns or gun paraphernalia. The judge told Mays he was putting him on an "extremely short leash."
Mays will have less than a month to prove to the judge that he can fulfill all of his probation requirements. Scorsone said he would review the case Dec. 15.
Mays pleaded guilty in February in the shooting death of Ali Shalash. Mays and Shalash were alone at Mays' home on Dorset Drive on Nov. 23, 2009, when Shalash, 17, was shot in the head.
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Mays, who was 16 when the shooting occurred, initially was charged with murder after blaming the shooting on a masked man. He pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-degree involuntary manslaughter, admitting that a gun he was handling fired and the bullet hit Shalash.
Mays, who turned 18 in June, was sentenced in February to 10 years in prison and admitted to a juvenile detention center. Under state statutes, a juvenile who is sentenced as an adult must have another sentencing hearing after turning 18.
In June, Mays' attorneys, public defenders Tom Griffiths and Erica Roland, asked the judge to allow Mays to continue a counseling program at a juvenile center in Louisville for at least five more months.
Mays told the judge he was learning "accountability" and "taking responsibility" for his actions.
On Thursday, Mays' attorneys told Scorsone that Mays had successfully completed the counseling program and requirements for a high school equivalency degree.
"He has people to help him stay on the right path," Griffiths said.
Roland said Mays was a different person.
"I just want to take responsibility," Mays told the judge. "I know I messed up. ... If I could, I would take back what I done."
Mays also apologized to Shalash's family.
Prosecutor Cindy Rieker said the Fayette commonwealth's attorney's office was opposed to probation for Mays, and she took issue with Mays' statement in court.
She said that although Mays said he should have been more cautious, he didn't say, "I never should have had a gun."
Rieker said Mays had a fascination with guns.
Griffiths said Mays would enroll at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and planned to work as a waiter. He will be living with his mother, Katrina Ferguson, he said.
Gwendolyn Perkins, Shalash's mother, said after the hearing that she didn't think justice had been served.
But later, Perkins and Ferguson were hugging each other and crying in the courthouse.