The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

September 5, 2013

Death was no accident

Judge says bad decisions caused Lee Lee's death

---- — Many people have referred to the gun death of L’Angelo “Lee Lee” Ford as an accident.

“I don’t believe it was an accident,” Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts said Wednesday. “I believe it wasn’t intentional, but I don’t believe it was an accident.”

Ford, 17, of Ravine Place, Sharon, died Jan. 20 in a local hospital after being shot at a gathering of young people at a home on Strawbridge Avenue, Sharon.

Jontae M. Barnes, 20, of Liberty Street, Sharon, had brought a revolver to the gathering and was handling it when Ford grabbed at it and it went off.

Yeatts said Barnes brought a loaded gun to the gathering, pointed it at people there, and that he allowed Ford to come up to it.

“These weren’t accidents,” Yeatts said. “These were decisions.”

Barnes pleaded guilty June 20 to charges of involuntary manslaughter and carrying a firearm without a license.

While Yeatts followed the sentencing recommendations tendered by the defense and prosecution - 1 year less 1 day to 2 years less 1 day in jail followed by 10 years’ probation - he stressed to Barnes that he will get out of jail still a very young man. Yeatts wanted to know what Barnes intended to do with his life. At 20, Barnes is an unwed father of a boy born two days after Ford died, has never worked, and has four criminal convictions for disorderly conduct and drunken driving.

Yeatts said he was hoping to hear Barnes say that he planned to get a job, go to school, provide for his son or voice some other concrete plan. Barnes talked only in generalities, Yeatts said.

Yeatts asked Barnes why he had the gun. Barnes said he did not know, so Yeatts answered the question for him. Young people have guns to be important, get respect, be tough, Yeatts said. What they end up as are street thugs. Barnes was headed down that road, Yeatts said.

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