FORT PIERCE — Emotions flared and a St. Lucie County Courthouse courtroom had to be cleared Monday morning as a 24-year-old man was re-sentenced for a murder that occurred when he was 17, a murder he said he didn't commit.
Authorities said Cameron Cordney Barron shot and killed his friend, 18-year-old Fort Pierce resident Dontavious Wilson, on Oct. 12, 2005.
Stories about the reason vary, but prosecutors at Barron's trial in January 2008 said the two teens either fought about sharing a McDonald's sandwich and French fries or about whether to leave a porch light on at the Avenue G home where the incident took place. Pushing and shoving ensued, and a gun fell out of Barron's waistband.
Barron reportedly shot Wilson three times, once in the chest and twice in the back.
"I just want to ask you, 'Why?'" William Wilson, the victim's father asked Barron during Monday's hearing. "You hurt yourself; you hurt your mother and dad; you hurt the whole Wilson family. ... Your family didn't raise you to be a murderer, and we didn't raise Dontavious to be a murder victim."
Barron told Circuit Judge Robert Belanger, "I didn't do it," adding that he took the plea deal because it was in his best interest.
As Barron was being led away, members of his family shouted encouragement — "We love you, Cordney"; "Stay strong, Cordney" — and one relative kept repeating, "He didn't do it."
Members of the Wilson and Barron families had been in separate rows of the courtroom, but as they neared the doorway, they mingled, which led to shoving and shouting.
It took several hectic minutes for bailiffs to pull the families apart and send the Barron family outside the courtroom. Wilson family members stayed behind until the Barrons left the courthouse
In January 2008, Barron was convicted of first-degree murder with a firearm, tampering with a witness and aggravated assault with a firearm. Circuit Judge James Midelis sentenced the then-19-year-old Fort Pierce resident to life in prison without parole, the automatic penalty at the time.
Last June, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws requiring life sentences without parole for juveniles constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling paved the way for Florida prisoners who committed murders as juveniles to be re-sentenced. Judges may uphold life-without-parole sentences but must consider a juvenile's age and the nature of the crime at sentencing.
At Monday's hearing, Belanger followed a plea deal worked out by prosecution and defense attorneys and sentenced Barron to 21 years in prison for the murder and 15 years each for the tampering and assault charges, with the terms for all three crimes to run concurrently. Barron gets credit for the time he's spent behind bars since his arrest.
Belanger also ordered Barron to serve five years of probation after his release from prison and warned the defendant he could be re-sentenced to the life term if he violates terms of probation.
Barron at first balked, saying he didn't know he was at risk of another life sentence, adding, "The police can come to your house for anything."
Defense attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. assured his client the threat of the original sentence for probation violation was standard procedure; and Belanger added, "Whether you violate (probation) is up to you."