Michael Everidge in court on Friday. (WRDW-TV / Oct. 19, 2012)
Friday, Oct. 18, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A judge sentenced 18-year-old Michael Everidge to 17 years of confinement and three years of probation after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter Friday.
Everidge was one month away from leaving Augusta YDC when the deadly beating of 19-year-old Jade Holder occurred on Nov. 7, 2011.
In court, the state said this was the first time something like this had happened in Georgia, calling the case historic. Prosecutors hoped this would send a strong message, you go to jail to rehabilitate not to die.
Several family members spoke on Everidge's behalf; some even coming from out of state.
Everidge's father told Superior Court Daniel Craig, "He wasn't brought out that way, he's not an animal, he's not an animal."
Keiondra Everidge, Michael's mother, told the judge, "I would first like to send my condolences to the Holder family."
Then, it was Michael's grandmother who spoke about her grandson, "I ask for leniency for my grandson who I love dearly."
All pleaded for mercy from the court.
Katrell Nash, Michael's attorney, told the judge, "To say sorry, we understand, is not enough. This was not intended, a death was never intended in this situation."
The state revealed last Nov. 7, Jade and Michael agreed to a fight. He said there was an unwritten rule at Augusta YDC -- if someone challenges you to a fight, you fight, one on one, or be taunted.
The state says Jade consented to the fight but not to die. Jade's family did not show up from Sylvester, Ga., saying Augusta brought back bad memories.
"For adults to be over these kids and let things happen like this to leave my child to fight," Michael's mother said.
She has since been fighting one of her own battles, bringing those guards, she feels are accountable, to justice.
But when Judge Craig brought Everidge to justice, she dropped to the floor and broke down in tears.
Nash told the judge, "If he could rethink and revisit this situation and make different decisions he would. I would like, your honor, to hear from Mr. Everidge."
For the first time, Michael spoke out about the charges.
Michael told the judge, "It was never my intention for this to happen and my heart goes out to the family. I just ask for the mercy of the court to give me a second chance."
He later said, "You got to fend for yourself. It ain't no safer to go to an officer because 9 out of 10, they don't care if you fight or not."
The defense argues this detention center turned a blind eye. Nash said, "This was not a malicious act on his part, but this was a culture, a culture and an environment that nurtured fighting and fending for yourself."
She also claimed the YDC failed to get Holder help quickly.
"It appeared that it was about one hour and 10 minutes that passed between the conclusion of the fight and was actually admitted to GHS University," she said.
Ultimately, Michael and Jade agreed to fight that November night. The teen who survived now battled tears to talk, "I got a 9-year-old little brother and I talk to him every night and he asks me, 'When you coming home?'"
Michael ended, "I just want to say I apologize one more time."
News 12 spoke to Keiondra following the sentencing. She said she wants everyone involved held accountable. She says the guards have a duty to protect those kids and that her son is taking the brunt of a bigger problem.
Keiondra says she truly believes this is not the last deadly incident that will be seen at the detention center.
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