Victim, suspect's families work together to spread awareness about gun violence

The families of both the victim and the suspect were at the sentencing on Wednesday. (WRDW-TV)

The families of both the victim and the suspect were at the sentencing on Wednesday. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- A judge sentenced a 21-year-old to prison for involuntary manslaughter on Wednesday.

The charges stem from a fight that broke out back in March of 2011. Jamie Gillete, 19, was working the door at a birthday party at the Belair Conference Center when a fight broke out in the parking lot. He was shot and killed in the crossfire.

The family says today's sentencing brings closure, but it also brings back a lot of painful memories.

"He's gone and don't have anybody anymore, a child to go and hug and love," Michelle Baker said.

It's been nearly two years since her only child was shot and killed.

"I'm sad, but it's some sort of closure," Baker said.

A judge convicted Johndrick Barnes of involuntary manslaughter. The sentence made the nightmare real for his mother, Kesia Sampson.

"Hearing the detective calling me and saying my son been charged with murder? And he ain't ever been in trouble in his life before? I dropped to my knees," Sampson said.

Both families say it's been a tough couple of years.

"I was so jittery and nervous and sad and crying and praying at the same time," Sampson said.

"When it first happened, I just kind of laid in bed all the time, didn't want to do anything," Baker said.

But, she and her family quickly realized that wasn't helping anyone, which is why they started the group, Saving Our Students, to help spread the word about gun violence.

"When we talk to the kids, I always hold up his picture and tell them, this is all I have left is just a picture of my son. Is this what you want for your family?" she said.

Wednesday was a big step towards healing for both families, as they resolved to work together to bring some good out of this tragedy.

Annetta Mills, the victim's aunt, says, "Our two families have come together, we're here at the courthouse together, we've hugged each other, and I believe I have a new family that's gonna join CSRA Saving Our Students."

S.O.S. will be speaking at Cross Creek High School Thursday night, and Barnes' family says they will be there to speak as well.

As for Barnes, the judge sentenced him to five years in prison and two years of probation, but part of the probation will include speaking to kids about his experience.


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