18 to 40 years for Na’Gus Griggs' killer
Na'Gus Griggs' mother looked across the courtroom at her teenage son's killer, sitting in his orange York County Prison jumpsuit, his jaw working as he sat wordlessly.
"God might forgive him," Natalie Brown told the court during Daequahn "Dae-Dae" Jones' sentencing hearing. "I'm not. I can't."
She talked about how upsetting it was to have her 18-year-old son suddenly ripped away.
"Coward," she said to Jones. "Coward."
Remaining silent and looking away from her, he shook his head.
Jones, who was convicted in November of third-degree murder, was sentenced Thursday morning to 18 to 40 years behind bars for killing Na'Gus Griggs, plus an additional 1 to 2 years for an unrelated charge of fleeing from police he pleaded guilty to earlier that morning.
The jury in November acquitted him of first-degree murder, which would have carried an automatic sentence of life in prison. Jones will receive credit for 463 days served already in jail.
Jones' co-defendant, Troyvon Breeland, had his murder charges dropped in exchange for pleading no contest to witness intimidation and cooperating with prosecutors.
The murder: Jones, now 21, and Breeland were among a crowd of people near the corner of East Princess and South Pine streets about 7 p.m. Sept. 8, 2014, when Griggs, Carlos Ramos and Niam Jamison drove through the area and stopped for a red light at the corner, according to preliminary hearing testimony.
At that hearing, an eyewitness testified that when Ramos, Griggs and Jamison pulled up to the light, Breeland twice said, "Let that thing ring."
Jones fired at Griggs immediately after Breeland made the statements, according to the witness, who said she saw Griggs' head snap to the side.
He was rushed to York Hospital, where he died several hours later, according to the York County Coroner's Office. Ramos testified he and Jamison abandoned their dying friend and fled.
Bad blood: Four days before he was fatally shot, Griggs, of the west end of York City, predicted he would die on the streets or spend his life in prison because people were angry at his younger brother.
Now 19, Flair Griggs was 16 when he fatally shot 17-year-old Joseph Gomez Jr. in self-defense outside the McDonald's on South George Street in April 2013.
Flair Griggs is serving a three- to seven-year prison sentence for illegal firearm possession and reckless endangerment. Murder charges were dropped.
At the end of Na'Gus Griggs' Facebook post predicting his own possible death, he wrote "#600" and used six cartoon images of handguns.
York City's west-end neighborhood gang, or "crew," calls itself the 600s or the 600 Boyz.
He and his friends were riding through the south side of town when he was killed.
Na'Gus Griggs played basketball for New Hope Academy and had hoped to attend college, according to his former coach, who said Griggs wanted to escape the streets but was conflicted.
Judge Harry Ness, who presided over the case, told the court he remembers Jones from when Ness served on the family court bench. He said Jones was one of the first cases he handled, and nothing has ever seemed to make Jones, who already has both juvenile and adult criminal records, shape up.
"The only thing you wanted to do was hang on the streets with your buddies," the judge said. "And this is where it got you."
— Reach Sean Cotter email@example.com.