A mother who lost her son hugged the mother of the man who shot him after he was sentenced to prison Wednesday.
Johndrick Lors Levert Barnes, 21, of Augusta, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the March 19, 2011, shooting of James Sterling “Jamie” Gillette Jr., 19.
Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Barnes to five years in prison, with credit for the nearly two years he’s already served, followed by two years probation and a $1,000 fine at the hearing at the Columbia County Justice Center in Evans.
Gillette’s mother, Michelle Stewart Baker, and Barnes’ mother, Kesia Sampson, and their families vowed to work together to help prevent other families from the same tragedies.
“Unity is power,” Sampson said. “Turn the bad into the good. ... Unity is power and we’re going to work together.”
Overstreet encouraged Barnes to dedicate time during his probation to CSRA Saving our Students, which Baker and Gillette’s aunt, Anita Mills, started. Through the organization, they promote gun safety and bullying awareness and good decision-making in Richmond County schools.
“We’ve suffered a tragedy,” Baker said. “We want to do whatever we can do save other children and families from having to go through the same thing.”
Gillette was an employee of the conference center working a 16th birthday party for one of James Brown’s granddaughters. Word of the party spread and about 200 people showed up. Fights broke out inside, so guests were ushered outside. Gillette was holding the door for people to go outside when shooting started in the parking lot.
Barnes shot a .380 pistol into the air and a stray bullet hit Gillette.
Assistant District Attorney Rex Myers said it is clear that a bullet from Barnes’ gun killed Gillette, but doesn’t believe it was an intentional shooting.
“Johndrick is very remorseful for ever going to that party,” his attorney Clayton Jolly said. The shooting was an “act of carelessness and a lack of thinking through.
“It is a tragedy for both sides.”