The killers of Zaevion Dobson, the teen football player who received national praise for shielding his friends during a shooting have been sentenced for their parts in the 2015 murder.
One of the defendants was sentenced to life in prison while two others received over 100 years each.
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steven Sword sentenced Christopher Drone Bassett, 22 to life plus 35 years; Kipling Deshawn Colbert, 22 to 109 years; and Richard Gregory Williams III, 23 to 143 years.
Bassett was facing an automatic life sentence under Tennessee law after he was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson.
The jury found Bassett guilty of pulling the trigger and Williams and Colbert guilty of facilitating the cold-blooded murder. The judge said that he considered all the defendants “equally culpable.”
“I understand the jury’s findings and I respect their findings,” Sword stated. “They gave both these two gentlemen a large break because I think there was sufficient evidence for them to also say Mr. Colbert and Mr. Williams were guilty of first-degree murder.”
Williams also received a 36-year prison sentence after being convicted of attempted murder in the shooting of Larry North last year. North was a reluctant witness for the state during this latest trial.
Lawyers for the defendants say they plan to file motions for a new trial. Bassett was convicted on 19 counts and Colbert and Williams on 17 counts each.
On December 17 2015, Zaevion Dobson was on a back porch with his friends when they heard gunshots. Dobson shielded two girls from the bullets and received a fatal gunshot wound. The girls were not injured.
Dobson was praised posthumously by President Barack Obama and the boy was deemed a hero all over the country.
Dobson’s mother, Zenobia Dobson, spoke at the sentencing, saying, “I will see Zaevion again someday in heaven, but here in this world, he’s gone, so these men should lose something, too. They should lose their freedom for the rest of their lives.”