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Student who shot classmate to graduate, no jail time

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by Luckyazn, May 15, 2009.

  1. Luckyazn

    Luckyazn Contributing Member

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    From Gary Tuchman and Ismael Estrada
    CNN

    ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- About 500 students will graduate this weekend from Atlanta's prestigious Morehouse College. One person who won't be there is Rashad Johnson, shot three times by a fellow student. But the shooter will receive his diploma -- part of a plea deal that spared him up to 20 years in prison.


    Joshua Brandon Norris was given a plea deal that avoided jail time and mandate he stay in college.

    t's a puzzling case that raises a huge question: How can this be?

    Even Atlanta's chief district attorney, Paul Howard, is outraged by the generous plea deal, an offer that was made by a prosecutor under his command.

    "First of all, for the victim and his family, they deserved a better resolution," said Howard, a Morehouse graduate himself. "It seems like the wrong person got the right benefit."

    Joshua Brandon Norris faced one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a second count for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. But in a court hearing in January, he was presented with what the judge described as "the break of your life." Watch Justice for all? ยป

    He pleaded no contest to the first count; the second charge was dropped. He got six years of probation, a $1,000 fine and 240 hours of community service. He avoided any jail time, and the plea also mandated that he "remain in college and complete your college degree," according to court transcripts. The sentence was not the judge's idea, but he followed the prosecutor's recommendation.

    Johnson, who still has a bullet in his left leg, says he wasn't told about the court hearing. When he learned of the plea deal, his reaction was: "He's gotta return to college? This criminal?"

    Johnson's father died three months before the shooting. He had taken the semester off to grieve for his father, but remained in Atlanta and had planned to return to Morehouse the following semester. After the shooting, he went home to California to be with his mom and recover from his injuries.

    His mother, Fahizah Johnson, said, "I am so disappointed because Morehouse has been an institution in my family for three generations."

    "This guy shot my son three times, and he's still in school? He's still a student with other students?" she said. "I'm hurt for my son. I'm hurt for his dream deferred, but it's not over. And I'm thankful for his life and I'm thankful for his spirit."

    The incident began at a Halloween party in 2007 at an Atlanta club, where Morehouse college kids had gathered for a bash. The club owner said he saw Norris causing trouble, and a bouncer threw him out the front door.

    Minutes later, the people in the club heard gunshots and everyone hit the floor. The club owner said the shooter was the man he saw kicked out.

    Johnson told CNN that there was an altercation outside the club and that he exchanged words with Norris. He said he didn't think much of it, and he began walking to his car when Norris pulled up in his Hummer, got out of the vehicle and pointed a gun at his head.

    "When he put the gun to my head, all I could think about was I'm not going to let this kid take me away from my mom, especially with what she's dealing with right now," Johnson said.

    He said he grabbed Norris' wrist and pulled his arm down when shots rang out. "I felt the sharpest burning sensation when the first bullet hit my leg. It actually made my leg buckle," he said.

    Norris would not go on camera with CNN, and neither would his attorney. But his lawyer said that at the time of the shooting, his client felt his life was threatened and was defending himself.

    CNN also asked Morehouse officials to comment on why Norris was allowed back in school and asked if they ever talked about safety considerations involving other students there. The school had allowed Norris to return to classes, even before the plea was entered.

    Morehouse refused to discuss the issue on camera. But in a written statement, the school said, "The college cannot comment on specific student conduct matters, incidents of inappropriate student behavior, whether on or off campus."

    The assistant district attorney who made the plea deal could not be reached for comment. His boss, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, said that the prosecutor of the case has resigned and that he would have been fired for his handling of this case. Howard feels a stiffer penalty was warranted.

    "We are sorry this happened for so many reasons," Howard said. "When something like this happens, I am very upset by it."

    He added, "It was an inappropriate sentence."


    As for Johnson, he is attending Sacramento City College and plans to attend law school after he graduates in 2011. Johnson said he no longer wants to be a Morehouse man. The fact that Norris is graduating this weekend, he said, is an injustice.

    "I really feel sick, like how could this happen," he said, fighting back tears.


    link
     
  2. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Shame on Morehouse, and shame on the assistant DA.
     
  3. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    isn't the chief DA supposed to be in the loop with plea deals like this?
     
  4. TheBigAristotle

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    Wow. Sometimes you think you've seen/heard it all, but this is one of the strangest rulings I've ever seen. What in the hell is wrong with the people that presided over this??
     
  5. Samar

    Samar Contributing Member

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    So does this means that the assistant DA got a nice severance package from the kid's dad, and Morehouse got a new computer science building?
     
  6. nolimitnp

    nolimitnp Contributing Member

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    He needs to watch some back episodes of Law and Order (the originals) to get in the know.
     
  7. percicles

    percicles Contributing Member

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  8. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

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    HBCU...enough said. Oh please, show me an HBCU that isn't incompetent. Howard? That's about it.
     
  9. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Although I won't say being a Historically Black College didn't maybe effect the decision, HBCUs are not incompetent.
     
  10. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    :confused: How does the identity of the school affect the decision-making of the prosecutor?
     
  11. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

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    I didn't realize the prosecutor allowed the shooter to re-enroll and graduate.
     
  12. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

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    I probably shouldn't have judged all HBCUs by the high standards set by Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern. I apologize.
     
  13. dskillz

    dskillz Contributing Member

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    That is exactly what I am thinking. He should have approved this before it was even offered.
     
  14. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    I didn't think the big deal was that the school allowed him to continue in school. I thought the big deal was that he assaulted someone with a deadly weapon and was given a such a sweetheart deal from the prosecutor that you'd have to think he was corrupt. Isn't that a bit more outrageous? The school is hardly worth talking about in comparison.

    Though I know many schools would expel a student for this crime, I don't really feel it is necessary. In fact, I wouldn't want the school to discriminate against him because of his criminal record. I do want him to be able to get a job and possibly be a productive member of society in the future.
     
  15. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

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    PS I think I'm arguing just to argue. It's Friday and I want to go home!!!
     
  16. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Living in GA, I've known a few people that went to Morehouse and their sister college Spelman. They are pretty tough to get into, not to mention very expensive without a scholarship.

    I think the school was extremely wrong in their decision. I think that they may have been hoping to "save" a young black man from ending up being on the streets, and becoming a career criminal. They probably think that completing his degree at Morehouse will help to change him for the better.
     
  17. Major

    Major Member

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    Is it possible here that the DA didn't feel there was enough evidence to get an actual conviction here? The article doesn't really go into it very much, but I wonder if there was enough potential reasonable doubt that going to trial would have resulted in the guy going free.
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    I think schools should accept students that have criminal records, but they shouldn't allow a student to continue at their school when he shot another one of their students. I'm all for this guy graduating college, but not at Morehouse.
     
  19. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Excellent point. It is certainly possible that he didn't think he could get a conviction.
     
  20. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    If someone grabs your hand while you are holding your gun, could that cause the gun to fire? I am curious as to how the shots were fired exactly.
     

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