Judge gives Prince 50 years in teen murder case

Monday, October 27, 2008 | 5:58 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — When Kristopher Prince was convicted of murder in September, Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane told the jury that he could either confirm its recommendation of a 50-year sentence or propose a lesser sentence.

On Monday, Crane confirmed the sentence.

Prince, 19, now faces 50 years in prison: 30 years for second-degree murder, 15 years for unlawful use of a weapon and five years for armed criminal action, to be served consecutively. Crane also denied Prince's motions for a judgment of acquittal and for a new trial.

"You do have a lot of people who love you," Crane told Prince on Monday in Boone County Circuit Court, referring to letters he had received from Prince's family and friends. "But you didn't take individual responsibility for your actions."

On April 18, 2007, Prince fired four to six shots from an assault rifle during a high-speed car chase near the intersection of Grindstone Parkway and Bearfield Road. One of the bullets struck Tedarrian Robinson, 17, who was riding in the front passenger seat of the car being chased. Robinson was pronounced dead later that day at University Hospital.

At Monday's sentencing hearing, Michael Byrne, one of Prince's attorneys from the Boone County Public Defender's Office, asked Crane to consider a lesser sentence. "This is a crime of stupidity and recklessness," Byrne said. "It is not something that occurred out of evilness. Fifty years would be a sentence for someone who is truly despicable."

He urged Crane to follow the recommendations of the Sentencing Assessment Report, which helps judges make informed decisions about criminal sentencing. Byrne said the report calls for a sentence of 15 years in prison for people with no prior convictions who commit this type of crime. He said that at most, Prince should be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

But Dan Knight, the Boone County prosecuting attorney, said Prince deserves the full 50-year sentence because he has a long criminal history. Prince put a number of other people at risk with his reckless actions on the day of the murder, Knight said, calling him a "dangerous and violent person."

Cherry Robinson, Tedarrian Robinson's mother, took the stand Monday but did not give any specific recommendations for sentencing. Still, she said,  "I don't see any sign of remorse on Mr. Prince's face."

Prince exercised his legal right to say that he was not effectively represented by his defense team. He listed a number of problems he had with his defense, including his lawyer's failure to call certain witnesses and to test certain items of evidence.

Crane said the court will find Prince another attorney for his appeal.

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