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Teenager sentenced to life for homicide

Two others involved in 2009 death

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The murder trial for an Augusta teenager was cut short Monday when the defendant entered a guilty plea and was promptly sentenced to life in prison.

Brandon Steplight: The Augusta teenager pleaded guilty in the July 2009 death of Miguel Hernandez.   Special
Special
Brandon Steplight: The Augusta teenager pleaded guilty in the July 2009 death of Miguel Hernandez.

The case against Brandon Steplight, who was 16 years old when he shot Miguel Hernandez in a robbery attempt in July 2009, was the second trial in as many weeks for a juvenile in Richmond County Superior Court.

Branndon Manson was found guilty of aggravated battery on Sept. 21 for the March beating of Terrence Reese on Circular Drive. Manson was 15 at the time of the attack.

Last summer, Steplight and co-defendants Cassietta Felton and Charles Nehemiah Cary, also 16 at the time of the robbery, planned to rob Hernandez and several others at a house at 124 Fox Trace, Richmond County Assistant District Attorney Pittman Morris told the court.

Felton was to act as a distraction by dancing for the men while Cary and Steplight came in the back door of the home. But the plan fell apart once Cary and Steplight realized the back door was locked. They knocked repeatedly in the hopes of getting Felton's attention, but it was Hernandez and a second victim, Diego Gaspar, who answered.

When the victims came outside, Steplight shot Hernandez with a 22-caliber revolver, Morris said.

"Hernandez pulled himself up and crawled into Apartment 124, where he died," Morris said.

After entering his plea, Steplight's attorney, Debra Neumann, said her client regretted what had happened and did not mean to kill Hernandez.

"It was an accident the gun went off," she told Judge Carlisle Overstreet. "He didn't mean for anyone to get hurt. The victim pushed him and shoved him."

"I apologize, and when I get home, I'll be a better man," Steplight said.

A woman identified as Steplight's mother began sobbing when Overstreet sentenced her son to life in prison.

Felton also entered a guilty plea. She was facing charges of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison and three years' probation.

Gaspar was also in the courtroom. Speaking through an interpreter, he thanked Overstreet for the sentence.

"Thank you very much for what you've done today, your honor," he said.

A date for Cary's trial has not been set.

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corgimom
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corgimom 09/28/10 - 03:12 am
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"It was an accident the gun

"It was an accident the gun went off,"

When you make elaborate plans to rob somebody, and you take a gun, and pull it out and shoot somebody- how is it an accidental shooting?

corgimom
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corgimom 09/28/10 - 03:14 am
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"A woman identified as

"A woman identified as Steplight's mother began sobbing when Overstreet sentenced her son to life in prison."

I'm musing here- I wonder how many tears Miguel Hernandez' mother has cried since her son was murdered.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 09/28/10 - 04:32 am
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Until the root cause is

Until the root cause is addressed, this will continue.

Tisk tisk what is this world coming to
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0
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A life sentence? He'll be out

A life sentence? He'll be out in what, 15 years? Now he will be going to school to learn how to be a better criminal. Overstreet will again be responsible for more murders in the future. It is obvious that a death sentence should have been given here. I guess you can call it job security.

River Rat
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River Rat 09/28/10 - 07:16 am
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A sentence of DEATH would

A sentence of DEATH would require a jury verdict, not within the pervue of Judge Overstreet. Given the young age of the offender, a life sentence would have likely been the result. Teen offenders are typically thought to be candidates for rehabilitation. Tisk Tisk: Perhaps a fixed sentence would have been appropriate. A sentence of DEATH, however, was not within the sentencing option available to the Judge.

fish2
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fish2 09/28/10 - 07:31 am
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See folks a punk thug can

See folks a punk thug can kill you or a member of your family and get away with it. The only education this thug will get in prison is dropping his pants.

lifelongresident
1323
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lifelongresident 09/28/10 - 07:56 am
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lets just hope he serves his
Unpublished

lets just hope he serves his complete sentence, but given the politician's reluctance/refusal to authorize funds to build more and bigger prisons he will probably serve a short time them be released on parole. "the gun accidentally went off?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?" are you "freakin" kidding me in order for the gun to "go off" the trigger must be pulled, and to shoot/kill someone one must point the open end of the barrell at someone!!!! did every read the response of the "scumbag" lawyer??? "oh he pushed my client, he didn't mean to kill the victim" typical scumbag lawyer defending a dirtbag of a human being

Chillen
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Chillen 09/28/10 - 08:18 am
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Think before acting folks!

Think before acting folks! Going through life flying by the seat of your pants is no way to live.

Public schools need to start offering life skills classes. Planning of and consequences of your actions. For some of these kids it will be the most important class they ever take.

johnston.cliff you are absolutely correct.

ispy4u
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ispy4u 09/28/10 - 08:22 am
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How is he getting away with

How is he getting away with anything? I have heard where a plea has resulted in the death penalty. Overstreet will not be responsible for anything this person does, if/when he ever get out.

airbud7
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airbud7 09/28/10 - 08:49 am
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He should be gone for at

He should be gone for at least 30 years/parole eligibility for life sentence in georgia, if you were sentence From 1996 until 2006 it was a 14 year (parole eligibility) rule and after 2006 it is 30 years before eligible.

RAINBOW
11
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RAINBOW 09/28/10 - 09:32 am
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If you are in as a lifer,if

If you are in as a lifer,if you dont make it out at they first parole hearing then its 8 year before you come up for they next one.

stillamazed
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stillamazed 09/28/10 - 09:33 am
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Corqimom, as a mother I find

Corqimom, as a mother I find your comment to be cold and heartless, who are you to assume or think that the mother of the young man who was sentenced is not allowed to greive for her son also? Her son may not be dead but he is gone from her for some years to come. Please do not assume that just because this young man is black and possibly from the bad side of town that his family does not love him.

55 F-100
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55 F-100 09/28/10 - 09:50 am
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"I apologize, and when I get

"I apologize, and when I get home, I'll be a better man".......No, Cuz, you will be a "changed" man, and for the sake, and safety of the general public, we all hope that you spend the rest of your worthless life in prison. Maybe you will catch a break and be placed in a cell with a "really friendly" Latin King or MS-13 enforcer.

reader54
209
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reader54 09/28/10 - 10:47 am
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Are y'all really ready to

Are y'all really ready to start executing JUVINILE committed offences? If so, at what age? 10, 12, 14 yrs.? There are few countries that execute ANYBODY much less kids. Please tell me at what age you feel that it is civilized.

v_fresh
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v_fresh 09/28/10 - 11:03 am
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Whoa whoa whoa. Before you

Whoa whoa whoa. Before you perfect people and perfect parents start pointing the finger and the young man's mother and his home, allow me to help enlighten you all.

As a father to be of twin boys, the oldest son of four, there is no such thing as perfect parents or perfect homes. Growing up, we all are faced with situations that can change our lives forever if you never fully deal with the situations as they arrive. He probably was faced with something as a child that he never talked to anyone about or never dealt with that caused him to head down this destructive way of living.

The young man's mother is probably your typical hard working mother that is doing the best that she can to provide for her family and when something like this happens, it hurts. It hurts to feel like, "man, I worked so hard to provide a good home for my family and I still had one that went down the wrong path, am I a bad parent"? NO. As a parent, you are the bow, your child is the arrow, you can only point them in the right direction and let go and have faith that our Lord and Savior will always guide and protect our children.

So before you all continue to think that the young man had bad parenting, or a grew up in a bad home, he had a choice that he made and these are the consequences. The only thing that we can do and better lead our own children and look out for one another.

Collectively, we can change as a community so let's better work together to help prevent our young ones, our children, our future from falling through the cracks and ending up like this young man, or worse.

Change begins with you.

V!

Dorion
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Dorion 09/28/10 - 11:01 am
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Reader54, if you're going to

Reader54, if you're going to emphasize a word by typing it in all caps then you should try to spell it correctly. I bet if this kid robbed and killed your family member, you wouldn't be asking this question.

v_fresh
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v_fresh 09/28/10 - 11:06 am
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Also. I offer my deepest

Also. I offer my deepest condolences to the victim and his family. No parent should ever have to bury their child.

lifelongresident
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lifelongresident 09/28/10 - 11:21 am
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reader do your home work,
Unpublished

reader do your home work, kids as young as 14 were executed...this occurred in sc back in 1944, his name was george stinney, he was accused and convicted in 8 days...on top of the there was doubt of his guilt...reader, children committing murder lead to some states such as calif lower the age that "children" under the age of 18 could be tried as adults to the age of 15-16,, this was because the gangs would use children as young as 15-16 to take out "hits" on rival gang members because they would be given lesser sentences or even probation if caught...in this case reader i would not shed a tear, nor will i lose sleep if he was executed, he knew right from wrong and he went to the victims house with the express purpose of robbing him and even killing him if necessary, reason i say that is because he had a gun!!!!!!

C2Soldier
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C2Soldier 09/28/10 - 11:25 am
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Reader54, I agree that

Reader54, I agree that children who commit violent murders should be treated as adults and I don't think age matters. However, circumstances around the murder matter. Take a look at this young man's face. In his mind he is a man. He carries himself as a man, wants to be seen as a man and parental influence has no effect on him. "Moms" is crying because she probably tried every way possible to keep him straight. If young men and women are given amnesty from the full effects of the law how are they deterred from committing crimes? If this kid thought that he would die for his crimes he might have thought twice about robbing the house all together. This kid was involved in not one, but two violent crimes. He has no respect for the law, his parents or the citizens of this town. Jail doesn’t scare him. He will join a click and continue his pimp status in prison. He should be feeding trees but that’s JMHO.

Quack Quack Quack
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Quack Quack Quack 09/28/10 - 11:39 am
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stillamazed...I don't mean to

stillamazed...I don't mean to put words in the mouth of "corgimom", but the way I read her post is that the mom crying for her son going to prison for at least the next 30 years is sad, but she will get phone calls from him, be able to go visit him every weekend, and have the chance to have a son. However, the mom of the victim can only visit her son at the cemetery. Big difference I'd say.

reader54
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reader54 09/28/10 - 11:50 am
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Dorian: I see that you

Dorian: I see that you wouldn't answer the question. I would not want a 15yr.old executed for any reason. His execution would not bring my
theoretical relative back to life. Two wrongs don't make a right.
Lifelong: My homework? You are going to cite a case from 1944 of a black boy in S.C. to justify your beliefs? Need I say more? Maybe, b/c you have not done your homework. It is unconstitutional.

C2Soldier
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C2Soldier 09/28/10 - 12:36 pm
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Reader54>>> It wouldn't bring

Reader54>>> It wouldn't bring back a family member but it would end the terroristic reign and set an example for other would be criminals that real adults are not willing to play children's games. No longer can a child do as he pleases and expect to share the same air as honest, hard working folks. The Real world has real consequences.

Dorion
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Dorion 09/28/10 - 03:02 pm
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"Two wrongs don't make a

"Two wrongs don't make a right." How is it wrong to punish a criminal? Unless it's proven that someone is intellectually incapable of understanding that robbing and killing someone is wrong, they should be punished severely. It may not bring the relative back but it will keep the criminal from commiting more crimes.

reader54
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reader54 09/28/10 - 03:49 pm
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Dorian: The child was given a

Dorian: The child was given a life sentence. I think that is severe punishment. It may not quench your blood thirst but it is the most severe punishment allowed by our Constitution. If you still believe that a child should receive the death penalty, then answer my question. At what age should it apply?

C2Soldier
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C2Soldier 09/28/10 - 04:16 pm
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reader54: We shouldn't set an

reader54: We shouldn't set an age and there is no answer to your question. However, the death penalty should not be regulated by an age either. Look at this young MAN. He is old enough to pay for his crimes.

reader54
209
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reader54 09/28/10 - 04:50 pm
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C2: The judicial system

C2: The judicial system disagrees and so do I. The reason for setting an age is b/c of the biological development of the human brain. Apparently, you see yourself as some sort of mind reading, facial profiler. You don't even know the IQ of the kid. Is he not paying a huge price for his crime? Perhaps you and Dorian would be satisfied if we tortured him a bit. If he was your 15 yr. old son, would you think that he was a "MAN" and deserving of death? He's a punk that thinks he is a man, as most 15 yr.old street kids do. Shouldn't set an age? Oh, great, the 8 yr. old knew that when he picked up his drunk dads' gun and shot momma...... Sheesh

C2Soldier
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C2Soldier 09/28/10 - 07:23 pm
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I'm not saying that the

I'm not saying that the punishment this kid got was not in line with what an adult would have received. I think circumstances dictate the punishment more than the age of the offender.

LCC0256
634
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LCC0256 09/28/10 - 10:06 pm
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cliff johnston is again dead

cliff johnston is again dead on point with his simple yet truthful analysis.

I say it breaks my heart to see a 16 year old boy with this misguided malice in his heart. Unless he is mentally handicapped it was the welfare state that is the real culprit here. Listen just a MOMENT AGO... he was just a little toddler playing with sticks and balls and running around grinning and laughing.. I would bet my bottom dollar that this young man never had a loving responsible dad and nurturing mom (YOU KNOW THE WAY GOD PLANNED FAMILIES)

There are some children who do in fact have loving, involved & disciplining parents who grow up and turn to crime. BUT THEY ARE THE RARE RARE EXCEPTION. They are the mentally disturbed that society needs to pitch in and help in what ever form that takes including institutionalizing them.

However statistics prove that 98% of children that are properly raised by their parents( and NOT THE GIVErnMEnt) grow up to lead healthy productive lives. I dont know whether or not there are severe mental issues in this case with young mr steplight. What i would bet on however is that had Brandon been raised in a house with a man like JC Watts as his dad as opposed to a "man" like al sharpton none of this would have ever occured. I submit to you if a man like JC Watts or Herman Cain or Michael Steele or Clarence Thomas or Dr Tony Evans or Dr Thomas Sowell or Alan Keyes (i can go on and on) would have been his dad this young man would be attending college now instead of going to prison.
To the Hernandez family my sympathies and prayers. To the mother of Brandon my sympathy and prayers. This did NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN.. those satanic socialist that have set their sights on destroying our country seem to be winning...The real irony is that the black families are the ones that are suffering most from this evil yet they are the ones that on a percentage basis do the most to keep those ideas in the forefront and those despot politicians in office...

Dorion
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Dorion 09/29/10 - 01:17 am
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LCC0256....First, Cliff

LCC0256....First, Cliff Johnson is never dead on. Second, you either need to stop drinking or you need something to help you relax....try yoga.

onlynaugusta
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onlynaugusta 10/07/10 - 09:35 am
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I do not feel sorry for this

I do not feel sorry for this young man. Great job Judge Overstreet. The victim is gone for life and this gentleman needs to be as well. There is too much violence in our communities. At 16, he did an adult crime so he should be treated as one. I'm sick of people saying that the punishment is too harsh. The violence has to stop. These young people are out of control. You can't continue to blame how you were raised on the type of individual you become. Since he didn't obey his mother, lets see if he will obey "Big Bubba"!

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