by: Ken Lemon Updated:GASTON COUNTY, N.C. —
An 18-year-old man who claimed he was defending himself after a fatal double-shooting will spend the next 20 years in prison.
Before sentencing Michael Walters, the judge asked how they had gotten to this point.
The three men, from good families, were involved in a drug deal that turned deadly.
"I just want to apologize," Walters said.
Walters told the families of the two men he killed he wishes he could erase what happened.
IMAGES: Police say 2 shot, killed in Gastonia
He entered a second-degree murder plea Wednesday to avoid life in prison.
"I just ask for their forgiveness, let them know I pray for them and their families," he said.
That was not enough for the loved ones of Jerry Richardson and Michael Rice.
"I bet you they pleaded for their lives. Why should you listen to him plead for his?" said Rice's girlfriend, Sharda Ratliff.
In May, Richardson and Rice went to Walters home to buy marijuana. Walters said he thought they were going to rob him.
When he got in the back seat of their car, he started firing shots. Five bullets hit Richardson. Three hit Rice, who was still strapped in a seat belt.
Walters went into his house, got a shotgun and came outside, ready to fire again when a person passing by told him to stop.
"You have taken away a part of me," said Rice's mother, Sheral Rice.
"I would like the court to sentence him to the maximum," said Richardson's mother, Melissa Gray.
Walters' mother asked the judge to be kind.
"All I can say your honor is have mercy," said the defendant's mother, Savannah Carr.
Walters' attorney said no one involved was innocent.
"Mr. Richardson and Mr. Rice did not come there with clean hands. They did not come there with a clean heart," said defense attorney Brent Ratchford.
Under structured sentencing, Walters could have gotten as little as 16 years in prison. The judge sentenced him on the high end.
Walters couldn't claim self-defense. Under felony murder, you cannot claim self-defense if you kill someone while committing a crime.
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