HANOVER, Va. (WTVR) ---Today a teenager pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the accidental killing and shooting of a longtime friend while re-enacting a rap video.
Franklin E. Robertson III, pleaded guilty this morning, at Hanover County Circuit Court, in the accidental killing of friend Jyreffe Clark that happened last December.
Robertson faced a second-degree murder charge, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Charges for Robertson, who turned 18 on March 23, were downgraded from first-degree murder after the prosecution and defense agreed the shooting was accidental. A second charge of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony was dismissed Wednesday.
“It’s probably in the top two to three percent of sad cases I’ve handled,” said defense attorney John Luxton. His client sobbed uncontrollably soon after entering the guilty plea.
Police said 17-year-old Clark was shot and killed while he, Robertson, and two other teens re-enacted the music video titled "Get rich or Die Tryin' " by rapper 50 Cent.
The four teens were at Robertson’s home when they grabbed Roberston’s stepfather’s gun.
During Wednesday's hearing, an investor in the case took to the stand and told the court another juvenile in the house originally handled the gun. The unnamed teen pulled the trigger once and when it did not fire he "racked the gun," releasing a bullet into the gun's chamber. The investigator went on to say the juvenile laid the weapon down, at which time Robertson picked it up, pulled the trigger and accidentally fired a bullet into Clark’s head. The single shot instantly took his life, said police.
The teens dragged Clark’s body across the street and began cleaning up blood spatter inside the home. Robertson mopped up the bloody floor with bleach and cleaned the carpet.
He also went to a nearby convenience store to dispose of Clark’s sneakers and his book bag, which contained a library card and Bible.
The casings from the Beretta 9 mm pistol were dropped down a drain. After the murder scene was cleaned up, investigators said the teens gathered at a nearby McDonalds.
All these actions were considered by the court as the flustered responses to an emotional, chaotic situation, not the acts of cold-blooded murders.
Two other teens admitted to carrying his body from the home where he was shot and dumping it in a nearby field, were charged with being an "accessory after the fact."
One has been released for time served after pleading no contest.
Luxton said Robertson could face zero to six months behind bars fo the charge. His lawyer said the convicted felon has been placed on medication to help him sleep and he is receiving counseling.
"He sees Jyreffe's face every night when he tries to go to sleep," said Luxton.
Sentencing will be held on July 25. The judge has denied bond. Roberston remains behind bars at the Merrimac Juvenile Detention Center in Williamsburg.