Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. on Friday sentenced Dequan S. Holmes to life in prison without the possibility of parole, a sentence he had never imposed before.
A Richmond County Superior Court jury deliberated over two days before reaching the verdict: guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault and two weapon violations. Holmes was acquitted of malice murder.
On the the night of June 28, 2012, Holmes, then 17, knocked on the door of a Windsor Spring Road home and opened fire after Javares Alston, 38, opened it. Alston died at the scene.His friend was wounded.
Danielle Willingham testified this week that Holmes never said a word after the door opened and that he continued to shoot until the hammer of the gun repeatedly clicked on an empty chamber.
District Attorney Ashley Wright, who had offered a plea negotiation of life in prison with the possibility of parole, which Holmes rejected, argued Friday for the maximum sentence.
Holmes had been out on bond a week when he committed the crime. He was a suspect in an armed burglary in South Carolina, Wright said, and according to Holmes’ own statement, bought a gun the day he was released from jail.
Holmes’ grandmother, Janice Holmes, spoke on his behalf, apologizing to Willingham and to Alston’s parents.
“My heart is heavy for them,” she said. “We don’t condone any of the things that transpired ... what Quan has done.”
“My hearts breaks for you,” Blanchard said to Holmes’ family. “I’m a grandparent and a parent, but I have to look at both sides.”
He had never imposed a sentence of life in prison without parole, Blanchard said, but this crime was so calculated and exhibited such disregard for life – and it was committed so soon after another violent crime – that the sentence was justified.