Child gets 81/2 years for shooting death

It's a pitiful story, Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus began Wednesday.

A 12-year-old shot an elderly man as he lay on the floor, pleading for his life.

A child with an absentee father and incarcerated mother bounced among family members, victimized along the way.

And locking up the boy in a juvenile justice facility for the next 81/2 years might be the best thing to happen to him, said the judge who sentenced him.

On Wednesday morning, Coreon A. Jackson took the witness stand in Richmond County Juvenile Court and admitted that he shot 65-year-old Roosevelt Cowins.

But he blamed 21-year-old Willie Casey, his accomplice in the March 19 home invasion. Mr. Casey shot Mr. Cowins first and then told him to shoot the man, he said. Coreon also said it was Mr. Casey, not him, who laughed about the killing.

Mr. Cowins' sister, Lillian Trant, didn't hear Mr. Casey giving any instructions, she testified Wednesday. She was asleep when she heard two gunshots and sprang out of bed. Her brother ran into her room and fell to the floor.

Coreon was standing at the door, pointing a gun at her brother and demanding money, Ms. Trant testified. He pointed the gun at her and demanded money, too.

"I said, 'Honey, I don't have any money,' " Ms. Trant testified.

Coreon shot her brother, then turned and left with Mr. Casey. As they left, Ms. Trant said, she heard Coreon laugh and say to Mr. Casey, "I told you I would do it."

Mr. Casey was later found dead in his jail cell with a bedsheet tied around his neck.

On Wednesday, Coreon apologized for his role in the shooting. He feels bad about what happened, he said.

Claude Tate, Coreon's counselor at the juvenile detention center, said the boy is a typical 12-year-old as far as his behavior goes. He's polite and smart. He's doing well in a structured environment and talks of wanting to finish his education, Mr. Tate said.

Before the shooting, Coreon had stopped going to his seventh-grade classes at Tubman Middle School.

His attorney Brendan Fleming told Juvenile Court Judge Pam James that Coreon understood he wouldn't be leaving court with a probation sentence. But what happens in juvenile court isn't just about punishment; it's about saving children. He asked for a short time in a juvenile detention facility, where Coreon would get supervision and education.

The prosecutor asked the judge to sentence Coreon under Amy's law in order to impose the maximum detention time possible -- up to age 21.

Coreon needs to feel the weight and cost of his actions, Mr. Fogus said. At least for eight years, the community and Coreon would be protected, he said.

The judge agreed. She committed Coreon to a secured juvenile justice facility until age 21. She set goals for him -- getting a GED, following the rules, taking any trade training available and serving as an example to other children.

Coreon is clearly a victim, too, Judge James said. He has never had an adult to take responsibility for him and teach him the value of life.

In the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, he can get an education and have people with his best interests at heart who will watch over him, she said.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

AMY'S LAW

Coreon A. Jackson, 12, was sentenced under Amy's law Wednesday. Amy's law was passed in Georgia in 2006 to give juvenile judges the power to impose longer sentences on children younger than 13 who kill. Amy Yates was 8 years old when she was strangled to death in Carrolton in April 2004. A 12-year-old boy accused of killing Amy could be detained for only two years. Two years later, another teenager confessed to killing Amy, and the boy was released from custody.