The mother of a man shot to death on Charleston’s West Side said Thursday that she had hoped the man who killed him would get a maximum jail sentence.
Darius Coles, 19, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for manslaughter in the death of 24-year-old Dominic Clark. The charge carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors dropped a murder charge they had filed against Coles in exchange for the guilty plea.
“No mother should have to go through this,” said Lillian Jarrett, Clark’s mother.
In October 2015, Coles shot Clark multiple times in the back in the 500 block of Ohio Avenue as Clark walked toward a taxi cab.
Coles was arrested and charged with Clark’s death nearly a week after the shooting when he showed up at the Charleston police station with his lawyer, Ed Rebrook. Coles had just turned 18 at the time.
Kanawha Assistant Prosecutor J.C. MacCallum asked Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman to hand down the maximum 15-years to Coles.
“It’s hard to say,” MacCallum said about being satisfied with the sentence. “It’s a tragic incident. He was shot in the back, it wasn’t a fight.”
Kaufman mentioned some of the reasons prosecutors said they offered the deal — problems with witnesses and other evidence — before handing down the 10-year sentence. The judge immediately left the bench after handing it down.
In March, when Coles pleaded guilty, the prosecutor told Kaufman he believed he could get Coles convicted of murder, but noted the many variables that can come up during trial.
The prosecutor explained Thursday that the case had some issues, mainly with witnesses.
“A couple of the witnesses were family members of the defendant, so we had to worry about how they would testify at trial,” MacCallum said.
Also, the prosecutor added, nearly all of the witnesses to the incident had, at one point, given statements lying to police.
Coles never made a statement admitting the shooting to police, or said much of anything, which made things more difficult for prosecutors.
Coles also didn’t speak during his sentencing hearing, but Rebrook asked the judge to hand dawn a sentence of no more than three years.
The gun used in the shooting was never located, MacCallum said.