CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After 16 hours of deliberations, jurors agreed on a sentence in the Andre Hampton case.
They sentenced him to life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty for killing his nearly 2-year-old son.
Hampton heard life, not death, stood, and told the jury, "I'm sorry for what happened. I'm sorry for what I did to my son. If I could bring him back, I would."
He went on. A few words later, he started crying and said the boy he killed, Elijah, "was the best son I ever had." He told jurors he has another son and urged them, "If you ever come across him, please give him a chance in life."
Moments later, Eyewitness News spoke with Elijah's mother, Lashinna Burger. She wasn't in court for the sentence, but seemed relieved Hampton got life. She spoke about heaven, saying, "He needs to find himself with God so that way, when he does pass away, when he makes it to that fence, he can tell Elijah how sorry he is."
Hampton's lawyers also felt spiritual.
"We hope and we pray that Mr. Hampton will share this very tragic experience for good," Norman Butler said.
"It was overwhelming,” Joe VonKallist said. “It was overwhelming."
Prosecutors said nothing would have been "justice enough for Elijah."
"The pain he suffered at the end of his life is something that neither of us has ever seen the likes of before," Bill Stetzer said.
"All of us that were involved in this case would probably think about it every day for the rest of our lives, and I can only hope that he does, too," Bill Bunting said.
Hampton's mother said, "I am relieved."
Jurors kept to themselves. They wouldn't say why they chose life over death or what went on behind closed doors during their 16 hours of deliberations. Instead, they left court under heavy guard, with about a dozen deputies surrounding them.
The judge added his thoughts at the end, saying Elijah "did not have to die and should not have died." And that if people take one thing away from this case, he wants them to know, "People are not property…and none of us has the right to abuse others."