Marquise Byrd was sitting in a car’s passenger seat and passing through Toledo, Ohio, on Insterstate 75 when a sandbag crashed through the windshield.
The object struck the 22-year-old in the head at around 10 p.m. on Dec. 19, police told CBS, and the driver of the car pulled over and called 911.
“I don’t know what happened! My friend, I don’t know what happened, he’s not moving!” she said. “Something hit my car. And hit my friend. And he is not moving!”
“OK, you don’t know what hit him?” asked the dispatcher, according to CBS.
“No, my windshield is, like, smashed up,” she answered. “He is laid out on my seat. I think the windshield might have smacked his head.”
Byrd died three later, according to NBC24.
But Pedro Salinas, the 13-year-old who admitted to dropping the sandbag, and Sean Carter, William Parker II, and Demetrius Wimberly – teens aged 14 or 15 who pleaded guilty to charges including involuntary manslaughter — won’t get jail time. Instead, The Toledo Blade reported, Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon sentenced the boys Friday to the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center, which usually keeps minors for around eight months before they are released.
Cubbon suspended the boys’ sentences of four years at the Department of Youth Services for Carter, Parker and Wimberly, and up to age 21 at DYS for Salinas, the Blade reported. Lillian Diallo, an attorney for Byrd’s family, had a strong reaction to the judge’s new decision on Friday.
“What madness is this?” she asked. “Where we don’t have to take responsibility for whatever age we are? What is this?”
The boys who pleaded guilty to manslaughter will have three years probation after their release, NBC24 reported, while Salinas will remain on it until his 21st birthday. That means they could still go to jail if they don’t follow court orders.
But family members of Byrd told NBC 24 that they hoped all four boys would be behind bars until age 21.
A pair of the teens testified in court that they were going to buy candy from a store, according to WTVG, when they crossed a bridge and found rocks. The boys started to toss the rocks, they testified, and then Carter said he threw a sandbag, which missed the road below.
The boys said Salinas threw the second sandbag, WTVG reported, and they ran away after hearing a loud bang.
Cubbon said that she decided to give the teens months at a youth treatment center because she hopes “these boys change their behavior and can become productive members of our community,” according to ABC. Thirty people wrote letters to Cubbon asking for a harsh punishment to send a message.
But Patricia Wilkes, Byrd’s mother, lamented that not even the harshest punishment could bring her boy back.
“This incident has disrupted my entire life, my entire family,” she told the Blade. “Now, my life is in shambles, for one, every day I wake up and I go to sleep thinking about my son lying there in that hospital bed.”