A 16-year-old girl entered her plea in front of a district judge in Pottawatomie County Wednesday as her family and the family of Kaylen Thomas looked on.
The district attorney, Allan Grubb told News 4 he was satisfied with the 30-year sentence.
But in reality, as a youthful offender, she won’t spend a day behind bars.
Cynthia Thomas wears her daughter’s name, Kaylen, on a necklace close to her heart.
Wednesday she watched the 16-year-old plead guilty in Kaylen’s death.
At one time, Kaylen’s family wanted the 16-year-old to go to prison.
“It’s mixed emotions because she was one of my daughter’s friends, and I trusted her, and my daughter’s never coming back,” Thomas said.
The tragedy unfolded in a McLoud home in October 2018.
During a previous court hearing, there was testimony given that there was a group of teens, including the 16-year-old and Kaylen, handling the weapon before the shooting happened.
“Knowing someone that’s taken your child’s life is one of the hardest things to deal with. I think it would be easier if it was a stranger,” Kaylen’s mother said.
District Attorney Allan Grubb charged the 16-year-old with second-degree murder but didn’t have enough evidence to go to trial on that charge.
A judge did bind her over on the lesser manslaughter charge, bringing us to her guilty plea Wednesday as a youthful offender.
”It is what it is, 30 years I believe is a good sentence. It’s up to the state of Oklahoma and the Office of Juvenile Affairs on what happens from there,” Grubb said.
As a youthful offender, the 30-year sentence is a little misleading.
The 16-year-old will do into OJA custody where the state will develop a rehabilitation plan.
That’ll last 7 months to a year, then she’ll be back home under supervision.
“This is a tough case. Nobody wins in a case like this, but it’s why we have the system. That’s why the legislature created the system that we have,” the 16-year-old’s attorney, Taylor McLawhorn said.
”As for me and my husband, we put it in the hands of God and what happens is what happens because there’s nothing we can do about it. They can’t bring Kaylen back, and there’s nothing that’s going to make it better,” Cynthia Thomas said.
If the 16-year-old fails to live by any of the rules of her rehabilitation plan, the district attorney could file a motion in the future that could change things.
For now, she’ll go back before a judge on October 2nd for formal sentencing, and Kaylen’s family will make a victim’s impact statement in court.