A judge from Wastenaw County, Michigan, nearly rejected a murderer's plea deal after he smiled while the victim's grieving family cried (video below).
Danta Wright, 17, was in court on July 24, on trial for the death of Jordan Klee, 18, reports WXYZ. Wright had admitted that he and two friends were attempting to rob the victim before he died.
"And as a result of that armed robbery, what did you do with that gun to Mr. Jordan Klee?" asked the county's assistant prosecutor.
"Shot him," Wright answered, before clarifying that he had shot him "in the top, by his head." When asked if the shot had killed Jordan, Wright answered, "Yes."
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As the court considered Wright's plea deal, which would result in 25 to 52 years in prison, Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge David S. Swartz told Wright he was considering rejecting the deal, which he had never done before, reports MLive.
"[Watching] you sit there, smile and laugh and shake your head like this was no big deal, I'm very tempted to just say I'm not going to accept this sentence agreement," said the judge. "We'll go to trial, and if you're convicted of felony murder, you'll go to prison for the rest of your life."
"That means you'll die there," Swartz added. "That's what I'm tempted to do."
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The judge saw Wright smile, as members of Jordan's grieving family wept in the courtroom.
"This year was supposed to be a year of celebration," said Jordan's mother, Karen Klee, in a statement read by her cousin. "Instead, it was a nightmare."
"On the nights I manage to sleep, I hear my son scream for me," Karen's statement said.
Wright's attorney, David Goldstein, said the young man's smile was actually because of fear.
"At his age, in his condition, he might not be able to express it as well as some other defendants," said Goldstein.
Wright was ultimately sentenced to 23 to 50 years for second-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, along with two years for a felony firearms charge.
Jordan's family members said they wanted Wright to be sentenced through the plea agreement, so they could begin to forgive and move on.
"They want to try and forgive this defendant ... and they are asking, as well as the people, that you proceed with the sentence agreement," said prosecuting attorney John Vella.
"So because for the first time in my life I feel hate in my heart, here is what I hope: I hope that every time you want for a jacket, that you stay cold," said Karen in her victim impact statement.
"I hope that every time you want for shoes, there is a hole in yours," the statement continued. "I hope that every time you want for a meal, you go hungry and I hope that every time you want for a bed, you have a sleepless night. I hope that every time you hope for your mother, she doesn't come for a visit."
"But more than anything, because we and I am nothing like you, I don't wish or hope any of that upon you."