Two weeks ago, Eric Willis was convicted of murder. On Thursday, the 21-year-old learned he will spend life in prison.
Eric Willis shot 15-year-old Ishmael Hernandez from point blank range last August. For almost a year now, family and friends of Ishmael have been waiting for closure. On Thursday District Judge Cecil Puryear gave them that by sentencing a killer to life behind bars.
"Eric Willis is the type of person that does not deserve to breathe the same type of air that the rest of us do," said Assistant District Attorney George Leall.
Leall and Jennifer Bassett were pleased with the jury's verdict and with the judge's decision Thursday. "Everyone did an outstanding job and this is the way a case like this should end and it did," says Jennifer Bassett.
The family of Ishmael Hernandez' agreed. "It's a victory in a sense but then it's not a victory for us because we still don't have Ishmael. I'm glad it's over with, it's time for us to move on as a family and put closure to this. It's never going to be over, everyday we got to get up and live without Ishmael in our lives," said Ishmael's Mother Patricia Hernandez.
Ishmael was killed at the Garden apartments during a confrontation between two groups. Willis admitted to the shooting, but said it was in self defense. The court disagreed. "I believe this young man got what he deserved. We lost a wonderful precious loving boy, but he also lost because he lost his freedom and I really believe that justice was done this day," said Becky Hernandez, Ishmael's Grandmother.
"Eric Willis got what he deserved, he got what he had coming to him. You reap what you sew and Eric Willis earned that life sentence by all his actions," Leall said.
Willis will be transferred to a TDC unit to serve his sentence, he will have to serve at least 30 years before being eligible for parole. Willis told the court last week, that he couldn't handle a life sentence. But the judge said Willis is no example for his two young children.