Tensions were high at a juvenile court hearing Thursday that saw two teenagers sentenced to a state youth center for their involvement in the Jan. 29 death of a Wichita man who was shot to death while he was at home with his two young children.
One of the youths had earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Jeremiah Doby, 26. The other pleaded guilty to interference with law enforcement for his actions, which occurred after Doby’s death. A third defendant will be sentenced next month. All three juveniles were 16 at the time of the crime, and Wichita police said all were involved in a street gang.
Wichita police said Doby was shot multiple times in the abdomen in the living room of his house in the 1700 block of East 23rd Street North. The suspects were arrested seven hours later in a house about a block away. The criminal complaint said the shooting occurred during an attempted robbery.
The youth who pleaded guilty to the murder charge reacted angrily when members of Doby’s family told District Judge Timothy Henderson that his family had not apologized for his actions.
“You make it seem like we did this on purpose,” he said. “We did not go over there to do nothing to nobody. We didn’t go over there to intentionally kill nobody.”
Henderson ordered the boy to sit down and later imposed the longest sentence allowed under juvenile law – commitment to a state youth center until the age of 23½, followed by six months of supervised conditional release. Henderson told the youth he would have to serve a sentence of nearly 13 years in an adult prison if he violates conditions of the conditional release.
“Regardless of how it happened, the reality is that the victim will remain dead – today, tomorrow and forever,” Henderson said.
Although prosecutors recommended probation for the second defendant, Henderson ignored that recommendation and ordered him sent to a youth center to serve an indeterminate sentence.
Henderson said he recently received a report from Wichita police gang officers who said the youth had been seen at a football game between South and West high schools in the company of a 23-year-old gang member. The report said the gang member was shot in the stomach two days later. The youth said he was at the game with his father, Henderson said, and the father backed up his story.
Henderson said he accepted the statements of the youth and his father, but said he was nevertheless concerned about the youth’s gang ties.
Among those who spoke at the hearing was Doby’s twin sister, Jerelena Doby.
“He was my angel,” she told the judge. “He was my guardian angel.”
John Wright, the stepfather of Jeremiah and Jerelena Doby, also spoke.
“In time there may be forgiveness, but now there’s anger,” he said.
The mother of the youth who pleaded guilty to the murder charge also addressed the court.
“From the bottom of my heart, I apologize,” she said. “I did not raise my child like that.”
Prosecutors said the youth had no prior criminal record before being arrested for Doby’s murder.