After being convicted of murdering Christopher Monnet by a jury on New Year's Eve, exactly two years after the crime was committed, Jerrin Hickman received a sentence of 25 years to life at a hearing on Monday.
"I think justice was most definitely served," Carla Rouse, Monnet's mother, told The Skanner News after Hickman was escorted from the courtroom.
Hickman was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison, starting from his arrest date in December 2008, for the Jan. 1, 2008 shooting. He was also given a 5 year sentence because the crime involved a firearm. He will be ordered to pay back – likely through prison work — $5,000 in restitution to the state for Monnet's burial costs. Additional fines requested by the prosecution were denied by Judge Michael Marcus, who said Hickman would have no way to pay it back given the pittance given to incarcerated workers and the length of his sentence.
During the hearing, members of both Hickman's family and Monnet's family crowded the courtroom. Judge Marcus said he was pleased and surprised by what happened between the two families.
"The embrace of the victim's family for Mr. Hickman's family rises above (the horrible act that brought people here)," Marcus said. "It's rare."
Speaking to Hickman, members of Monnet's family varied in their statements. Some were forgiving, others vengeful.
"When I got that call at 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Day … it just shattered my world," Rouse said. "It just shattered my world. I had to fly 3,000 miles to bury my child. It's something I don't wish on anyone, not even your family."
The victim's father said he holds "no grudges" and hopes Hickman takes the situation to better someone else's life.
"The last time I spoke to him (Monnet), we were supposed to get together for a meal," he said. "We never got to do that."
Ruth Black, Monnet's grandmother, wasn't as forgiving.
"You took my very first grandson away," she said, fighting back tears. "I ask you let him stay in jail as long as my grandson stays in his grave."
Hickman, who maintains his innocence, said he thanked his family and friends for support, and expressed his condolences to the victim's family.
"I feel like I was let down by this court," he said. "I feel that eventually justice will be served."
Terri Miller, Hickman's mother, said she's already started the appeals process. She believes the jury erred in its decision, putting too much weight on the testimony of estranged family members and circumstantial evidence. She says she believes investigators erred in not tracking down additional suspects.
For Rouse, she's confident the court got the right man.
"He did it," she said.