Relatives of the Michigan man fatally struck with a tossed sandbag were irate Friday as a Lucas County Juvenile Court judge ordered the four teenagers to a local treatment center instead of a state prison.
Marquis Byrd was the passenger in a vehicle that was hit by the sandbag dropped onto Interstate 75 in Toledo last December. Byrd was left in critical condition and died three days later in the hospital.
Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon called the actions senseless, irresponsible, and impulsive and said the defendants’ ages — they were either 13 or 14 at the time — were not an excuse for their crimes.
“This was not a prank. Throwing things off an overpass is not a prank,” the judge said.
Still, she said the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center in downtown Toledo is the best option for rehabilitation and to make the teenagers productive members of society. It has an average stay of eight months.
Cubbon said that she decided to give the teens months at a youth treatment center because she hopes “these boys change their behavior and can become productive members of our community,” according to ABC. Thirty people wrote letters to Cubbon asking for a harsh punishment to send a message.
But Patricia Wilkes, Byrd’s mother, lamented that not even the harshest punishment could bring her boy back.
“This incident has disrupted my entire life, my entire family,” she told the Blade. “Now, my life is in shambles, for one, every day I wake up and I go to sleep thinking about my son lying there in that hospital bed.”