The gunman in what prosecutors called an “execution-style murder” of a 16-year-old boy near Woodbridge High School in 2014 was sentenced Monday to serve 50 years in prison.
Kawain Tyrell Smalls, 21, of Woodbridge, pleaded guilty in November to first-degree murder for the Nov. 10, 2014 shooting death of 16-year-old Brenden Wilson.
At an emotional sentencing hearing Monday, Prince William Circuit Court Judge Steven S. Smith sentenced Smalls to 75 years in prison, with 25 years suspended, plus three years of probation.
Police and prosecutors said Smalls met Wilson at “the cut,” a short concrete walkway connecting Oakwood Drive to the Woodbridge Senior High School parking lot. Authorities said Smalls and four other people, most of them juveniles, plotted to lure Wilson there by arranging to buy marijuana from him.
Instead, they planned to rob him in retaliation for a dispute Wilson had with Smalls’ brother. Smalls’ younger brother and sister are among those charged in Wilson’s death.
Smalls shot Wilson six times in the back and then, turned him over and fired one more shot near his ear, Prince William Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Conway said in court Monday.
“It was an execution-style murder,” Conway said.
At the hearing, Vikki Wilson-Moore, Wilson’s mother, testified that she often has nightmares and has sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder after her son’s murder.
“I have nightmares of my son, laying on the ground in the cold, in the woods, all by himself, all by himself,” Wilson-Moore testified. “How do you move on?”
She said every day she wishes that her son will open the door and come home.
“The door doesn’t open,” she said. “He doesn’t come home anymore. He’s gone.”
Wilson-Moore said her son had a bright, outgoing personality and could fill a room with laughter.
“People liked him,” she said. “If you just met him one time, you would have liked him. … Our house is quiet now. There’s no laughter. Just emptiness… All I want to do is get justice for my son.”
Wilson’s sister, Brittni Wilson, read from a written statement about the loss of her brother.
“I lay awake at night wondering what his last thoughts were. Was he scared? Did he feel alone? Did memories of me and my mom comfort him?” she said, crying on the witness stand.
Smalls’ mother and godmother testified on his behalf, saying that they knew Smalls as a good person and did not understand how he could commit such a crime.
“I have kids, so I know that someone’s child has been taken and my heart goes out to them,” Smalls mother, Kimberly Carter-Smalls testified.
Conway asked the judge to sentence Smalls to life in prison, with all but 50 years suspended, citing his lengthy criminal record and the seriousness of the crime. Smalls had several prior convictions, including convictions for violent crimes and firearms offenses. He was out on bond, and on house arrest with an ankle bracelet monitoring device at the time of Wilson’s murder Conway said.
“He’s got a total disastrous history,” Conway said, adding that Smalls is “a serious risk to public safety” when he is not incarcerated.
Defense attorney Christopher Feldmann said that Smalls has taken full responsibility for his actions and that Feldmann and Smalls’ family believe he is “a good person inside.” Feldmann asked the judge to impose a sentence that would allow Smalls to one day leave prison to see his two young daughters and to see if he can one day “have a good affect on the world.”
Before he was sentenced, Smalls read from a written statement, apologizing to Wilson’s family, the community and to his own family.
“There is no excuse for my actions and I wish I could take it back,” Smalls said. “Him being so young, it’s crazy. No one should have to die especially due to bad decisions. ..He seemed to be a good person that I would have liked to meet. I’m incredibly sorry for your loss.”
Before announcing the sentence, Smith said he agreed that the case shooting was “an execution-style murder.”
“There’s not much I can say at this time. I recognize that there is good and bad in all things and unfortunately there is evil … that evil overtook you and that we cannot explain,” Smith said.