AIKEN - The death of Cameron Harris was senseless, but years of ridicule and teasing led Larry Darnell Jones to take the life of his longtime neighbor and friend, defense attorney James Huff said Monday.
That's the only explanation he offered for the fatal shooting of Mr. Harris on Nov. 1, 2004.
Judge Doyet Early then sentenced Mr. Jones, 22, to spend the next 30 years in prison, which immediately drew sobs from the families of both the shooter and the victim.
Mr. Jones' grandmother and wife had to be helped from the courtroom as he was led away by deputies.
As part of a negotiated deal with the solicitor's office, Mr. Jones pleaded guilty Friday to murdering the man he had grown up with. He could have received a life sentence.
Sentencing was held Monday morning so Mr. Harris' family could attend.
In court, Mr. Jones apologized and asked Mr. Harris' family for forgiveness.
"I know you're sorry," Judge Early told him quietly.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors won't pursue two other charges Mr. Jones faced, unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
Mr. Jones had been scheduled to go to trial this week for the killing, which took place in the 100 block of Ashmore Drive in Beech Island.
He pleaded guilty to shooting Mr. Harris, the father of three small children, in the chest with a .380-caliber handgun.
Authorities had said that the two men had an ongoing feud, but Monday was the first time a more in-depth motive was put forth.
Mr. Huff said that it was still unclear to him why his client did it but that the young man had been ridiculed for a long time.
"Over the years, he just couldn't let go of that," Mr. Huff said. "And it just kept building and building and building."
Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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