15 year-old sentenced to 60 years in jail


15 year-old Sherman Burnett, a St. Louis area teen with an angelic face, was convicted today of abducting, sexually assaulting, and beating a six year-old child when he was 13.   He left the girl half-dead in the middle of a cold November chill two years ago.   The St. Louis Dispatch reports that, “she had suffered a skull fracture, a lacerated liver and heavy bruises, and half an ear had been torn off.”

“She told police she couldn’t walk, so she crawled through a hole in a fence near the tracks but could go no further. As night descended, she said, she tried to cover herself with leaves. From her hospital bed, the girl identified Burnett from a school picture.”

They also report that the 8 year old victim wrote to the Judge presiding over the trial and requested that Burnett be sentenced to 60 years in prison and that’s what Judge Marvin Wiesman gave him. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked its readers whether or not they believed the sentence was appropriate and 46% agreed that it was, 16% said it was too lenient, and 37% said it was too harsh.  However, it was the comments made in their comment section that were truly illuminating.   The blood thirsty rantings of outraged people harken back to the days of lynching. 

“Really, there is no point in keeping this animal alive. By the time it’s sixty, what difference does it make if it’s “rehabilitated.” It should be killed…plain and simple. The viciousness with which this crime was carried out mertis only one punishment…death. Let us stop pretending that the system is designed to rehabilitate…well, let the animal get taken apart in prison for a while, and then kill it…””No, the sentence was not appropriate. He should have been sentenced to death. I hope that he is assigned a cell with a huge male homosexual who not only sodomizes him on a regular basis, but prostitutes him to the rest of the inmates. Then I hope that he develops cancer of the rectum and dies in agony before he is eighteen. “

“When I think about that poor little girl, crawling through a hole in a fence because she could no longer walk, trying to keep warm with leaves after what that animal did to her fills my eyes with tears of rage…he deserves to die.”

One commenter, identified as Jack Seiler, spoke for me “No, this sentence is not appropriate. Although, the sentence is indicative of the compassionless, draconian U.S. criminal justice system where human warehousing takes precedence over rehabilitation. I acknowledge the severity of the crime is abhorent, but considering the age of the boy at the time of the offense, it seems more justified that he should have been incarcerated in a facility where intense therapy was integral and then had his reentry into society examined at the age of majority. The fact that this Judge summarily threw this boy’s life away is nearly as sad as the crime that occurred.”

This level of violence is learned behavior and probably indicative of some kind of severe physical and emotional abuse and possibly mental illness.  I have a hard time envisioning these children, both he and the girl, as anything but victims.  I have nothing but contempt for a judge who hands down draconian sentences like this.  It gives new meaning to cruel and unusual.  This kid is sick. Incarcerating him until he is 64, without psychiatric treatment, will do nothing about that. 

64 thoughts on “15 year-old sentenced to 60 years in jail

  1. Cliff

    “Let us stop pretending that the system is designed to rehabilitate…”




    Outside of the racist content and overtures, I see some admittance to this statement.

    Satan is now admitting that his system is not designed to rehabilitate. Were they really pretending that their system is designed to rehabilitate in the past? If the enemy thinks that we are animals and that they are just warehousing us for our crimes in society, then how do they benefit for these ramifications? Let’s see, I heard Judge Joe Brown saying to a young brother influenced by society, in my own interpretation of his words, “You’re very valuable to them when it’s comes to employment, you give the police a job, the Judge a job, prosecutors a job, the Warden a job, the jailers a job, the stockbrokers who invest in the penitentiaries a job”. Seems like this is employment for a lot of white folks. Satan is calling our brother an animal, but let’s examine what is more animalistic, a society controlled, mechanized, and produced by animals or a victim of the animalistic society. What produced the mindset that people who have been locked in cage with animals for almost five hundred years, will not become like the animals who are in the cage with them, or like the animals who locked them in the cage? Will they tell the truth regarding these questions?

  2. yogo

    SB, you rolling off the rails on this one. This boy abducted, sexually assaulted, and beat a 6yr old child and left her half dead.

    60years ain’t enough.

    This save a brotha mentality is getting real old and real stupid.

  3. Lucia Akech

    The crime is horrifying!

    However, it bothers me that whenever a similar crime is commited by white person, the psychological issues associated with the mental state of the offender are explored to the fullest. The culprit, in most cases, gets off with a lesser charge.

    Do blacks people ever suffer from psychological problems or are their brains immune from stressful factors in their environment?

    Had Jeffery Dahmer been a black person, nobody would have had an opptunity to hear about how messy his childhood was. He was given an opportunity to explain to the world the road that led to his crimes!

    How come black people are not legally allowed to explain the psychological factors surrounding their lives even if the offender is a baby. What is it about a black person that makes him/her an instant criminal in the in the justice system? Can a black person ever get a chance for rehabilitation???

    The other day, Barry Bonds was charged with obstruction of justice with regards to his use of steroids. A possible 30-year jail time accompanied the charge. Less than a year ago Mr Scooter Libby was found guilty of obstruction of justice and there was an outcry by the president of the USA that the 30 months jail time was a very cruel and unusual punishment!
    There are definitely two systems in this country, one for black and the other for “WHITES ONLY”!

  4. SB,

    Both you and FN have chosen cases that, quite frankly, aren’t worth our collective concern and trouble.

    I have watched enough crime shows and documentaries to know, that if he did this when he was 13, he would only be escalating as he got older.

    This isn’t a case of picking up a gun and accidentally killing another child. The viciousness that you describe in this article indicates that this young man is a serial killer just waiting to happen.

    While all deaths are equal, the viciousness level of crimes are not. What you have written here is the work of someone who has serious issues, and yes, should be locked up in a mental facility. But, even if he goes to a mental facility, he shouldn’t be getting out. Read the crime you describe…..if he had been older, he probably would have been smart enough to make sure nobody knew it was him, because the child would be DEAD, and gone on his merry way – TO KILL AGAIN SOMEDAY.

    While he should be getting mental help, he shouldn’t be seeing daylight for at least 25-30 years.

  5. Tess

    He needs to be locked away forever. Forever. No sympathy for this kid at all. He’s a Son of Sam in the making and needs to be kept away from the public for the rest of his life. This crime is satanic. He didn’t accidently stab the girl, freaked out, and left her to die. No, he tortured that baby.

    SB, I don’t get you sometimes. Not everything is about trying to keep a brotha down. This monster deserves exactly what he gets.

  6. Lucia Akech

    There are many psychologists within the black community. There has to be a discussion as what kinds of environmental activities produced a boy who would, at the tender age of 13, “abduct, beat and sexually assault a girl aged 6 and leave her semiconscious”.

    Yes, this boy should be locked up in some mental instituion. While there, the psychologists should unravel the environment which created him and finding out more about the relatives.

    Identifying these problems will enable

  7. Michael

    I’m absolutley stunned at this sad story. That poor little girl. At this point, it will not matter how long he gets sentenced since our prisons dole out thier own justice and this little monster will NOT be be in prison for more that a few years…alive. I care much more about the little girl that this lowlife. And to think someone spends one minute whining about the equality of the sentenced in a case like this. I could care less of his race, this trancends race…we all should show zero tolerance.
    He is truly a serial killer in training. I look forward to the news story of his death in prison. BTW Lucia, thats the way Jeffrey got his ultimate jusgement as well.

  8. Kids like this young man further confirms that there are parents and there are “sperm donors and egg recepticles”.

    Where in the hell did this kid learn how to rape, kidnap and torture?

    No amount of psychological therapy will cure a serial killer/rapist in training. He did this at thirteen! Which means if his lil’ behind gets a soft sentence, he’d just be back on the street upping the ante.

    I have nieces, and the thought of one of them encountering lil’ monsters like this one…God, don’t make me go there.

    Maybe locking him up until he’s middle-aged is the best thing towards keeping our children safe.

  9. Sorry, sb. I have no sympathy for this kid. The fact that he did it at the age of 13 is just an indicator of what would come had he not been caught. No doubt he will be studied in prison, but in this case, that’s the best place for him.

  10. SB,

    I don’t know any more details of this case than what you’ve reposted here. But the responses to Sherman Burnett, the 13 year old who was convicted of brutally assaulting a 6-year old girl remind me of a case here in Chicago in 1998. Two very young boys, aged 7 and 9, confessed to sexually assaulting and killing an 11-year old girl. They were vilified by the media, the police and just about everybody who heard the story. Fortunately for them, not everyone believed they were guilty. After semen was found on the victim, experts advised the DA that 7 and 8 year old boys cannot produce semen. It was ultimately proven that police had interrogated them for hours without a parent or guardian present and coerced confessions out of them. They were eventually released and all charges were dropped, but to this day, I’ve heard people talk about these children as if they were sociopaths who got off on a technicality.

    The blood thirsty rantings of outraged people harken back to the days of lynching.

    Sherman Burnett may be absolutely guilty of this crime, but under the law, he is still a child, and a seriously damaged child who needs psychiatric care. The key phrase here being under the law. The judge in this case did what the judge in the Mychal Bell case did, he decided to try a young black minor as an adult because he believed him to be a threat to society. Mychal Bell’s conviction was overturned and his case was sent to juvenile court because somebody decided to follow the rule of law.

    Our laws are supposed to protect all of us from the “outraged,” “bloodthirsty” mob, no matter who we are or what we’ve been accused of doing.

    That poor little girl will hopefully get the love and support she needs to heal her body and soul. Let’s not forget what the brotha posted. There are TWO children who need healing in this case.

  11. Cliff

    How come black people are not legally allowed to explain the psychological factors surrounding their lives even if the offender is a baby.

    Exactly Lucia, how about the baby who has genetic psychological effects from slavery. How about the baby who has a psychological imbalance as a result of being influenced by Satan’s premier tool of warfare; pornography. Sexual influence on the internet, BET, MTV, Black Magazines, general magazines, Black Radio, general radio, commercials, movies with sexual content. Sexual content may be common among all communities, but the black community is specifically targeted.
    The divide between my people and myself. Although I do believe that we have to bear responsibility for our own actions, I will continue to be divided with my people if they don’t recognize who their enemy is, what their enemy’s plans are, and how they continue to keep their power structure in place.

    Hold on……let me use my enemy’s language.

    Let us stop pretending that we do not live in Satan’s world.
    Let us protect our children from being psychologically influenced by the animals who want to destroy the minds of our children.

  12. Sherman Burnett may be absolutely guilty of this crime, but under the law, he is still a child, and a seriously damaged child who needs psychiatric care. The key phrase here being under the law. The judge in this case did what the judge in the Mychal Bell case did, he decided to try a young black minor as an adult because he believed him to be a threat to society. Mychal Bell’s conviction was overturned and his case was sent to juvenile court because somebody decided to follow the rule of law.

    Our laws are supposed to protect all of us from the “outraged,” “bloodthirsty” mob, no matter who we are or what we’ve been accused of doing.

    That poor little girl will hopefully get the love and support she needs to heal her body and soul. Let’s not forget what the brotha posted. There are TWO children who need healing in this case.

    Ok, let’s say he’s charged as a juvenile…sentenced as a juvenile…put in a mental institution until he’s 21 – unless the rules have changed, isn’t that the limit for a child?

    I get a chill down my spine just thinking of him released as an adult into the world.

  13. As an adult he can be committed to an institution by a family member or, in some states, a doctor who examines him and concludes that he is a danger to himself or others.

  14. Renee

    WOW! I am from the area and trust me when I say, he needs to be locked up! His parents were stunned?? They produced this monster and allowed him to just coast along….it’s like the mother buying guns for her loner son and saying, she did not know he would harm someone with them. Why are some of these parents so out of touch with their children? Please, I cannot hear “poverty and racism” are the reasons for this. I grew up poor and had teachers calling me the “N” word when they thought no one was listening. The difference is having parents instill values in me and insist on me meeting the goals set before me. No excuses! The parents are a part of this, because they created this monster whether they want to belive it or not…say a prayer.

  15. Skeptical, you said, “This level of violence is learned behavior and probably indicative of some kind of severe physical and emotional abuse and possibly mental illness.”

    The Backyard Beacon afrosphere blog says in a post, quoting the LA Times, ” “We have always thought of race-based discrimination as producing a kind of attitude,” says Vickie Mays, psychologist and director of the UCLA Center on Research, Education, Training and Strategic Communication on Minority Health Disparities. “Now we think we have sufficient information to say that it’s more than just affecting your attitude. A person experiences it, has a response, and the response brings about a physiological reaction.” ”

    There was a time when Black lawyers tried to use the “Black rage” defense to sensitize America to the psychological effects of traumatic and chronic “racism”. But, rather than make a sustained and successful effort to reduce the systemic denigration, subjugation and exploitation of Blacks, our society gave up on doing that and instead increased the repression. Are the results so surprising?

    Now, I can surely hear the voices of those who will say I am making excuses for a heinous act. To those people I would say that 1) the point is well taken that such excuses are considered relevant when a white person is being tried, and 2) any study of Blacks should start from the assumption that there ARE psychiatric effects of our experience in American and we should determine what they are and what can be done to ameliorate them, rather than assuming that there are NOT psychiatric effects of our experience and then denying all evidence to the contrary.

  16. Oh, yes. Some will insist that my theory is “impossible” or counter-intuitive because the victim was a Black person. But, there is no evidence that people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being tortured by the Vietnamese were only abusive to the Vietnamese afterward. (As if the Vietnamese were to blame.)

    That “Rambo theory” of revenge that is uniquely focused against those whom we believe to have hurt us contradicts all that studies and clinical experience tell us about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – that sufferers of PTSD victimize themselves, their families and their communities in a variety of ways that may have no obvious relationship to the population associated with the causes of their chronic and extreme stress.

    If Vietnam Veteran PTSD sufferers only targeted the Nixon Administration and their Vietnamese torturers (silly stereotype) with their dysfunctional behavior, then the veterans and their wives and children would not suffer so much.

    Likewise, if Black people only targeted their white subjugators when acting out the effects of systemic denigration, subjugation and exploitation by whites, then Black communities would be much more peaceful and unified. We all know that it doesn’t work that way, in our community or in anybody else’s community. The victims of PTSD-related behaviors are typically ourselves and those closest to us, as well as our communities and our employers.

    In other words, it’s perfectly natural as a matter of psychiatry that Black people suffering from PTSD would victimize those closest to them, members of our own social group. Think of Vietnam veterans and Iraq Veterans and it becomes obvious that this is true. White PTSD sufferers from the Iraq War don’t seek out James Rumsfeld when they act out their suffering. If they are like other PTSD sufferers, the victims will be themselves, their wives and children and their communities.

  17. Y’all

    There is a such thing as criminal insanity and the brutality and revulsion engendered by this crime blinds good people from seeing the whole tragedy for what it is. This boy is either the victim of his own brain chemistry or he is a victim of violent physical or sexual abuse or both. Whatever the case is, he was too young to be responsible for what he did but he is being punished as though he was adult. No 13 year-old possesses adult judgment. Locking him up for fifty years isn’t a solution. It might make us feel safe, but its an emotional reaction to his horrific crime and not a rational judgment based on sound legal reasoning. He has a right to be treated, just like his victim.

  18. Cutting through the BS as usual, SB. There are too many factors that may be in play here.

    The PTSD argument is interesting because it’s been proven over and over to be a factor in violent behavior.

    I grew up poor and had teachers calling me the “N” word when they thought no one was listening. The difference is having parents instill values in me and insist on me meeting the goals set before me. No excuses!

    Renee, the vast majority of combat vets DO NOT suffer from PTSD, just as the majority of children who grow up in poor, brutal environments DO NOT commit crimes.

    If two children fall out of a tree one may walk away with scratches or a broken arm, the other may break his neck. Same tree, same distance to the ground. Don’t minimize damage that others live with just because your scratches and broken bones have healed.

  19. Mena

    “How about the baby who has a psychological imbalance as a result of being influenced by Satan’s premier tool of warfare; pornography. Sexual influence on the internet, BET, MTV, Black Magazines, general magazines, Black Radio, general radio, commercials, movies with sexual content. Sexual content may be common among all communities, but the black community is specifically targeted.”

    I hear this all the time as an excuse and I do not buy it. You do not have to let your child watch BET,MTV or anything else you deem inappropriate. It is your personal responsibility as a parent to monitor what your children do. If you find something on the TV offensive, turn it off. There is really no excuse now b/c most tvs/Cable providers have child blocks.

    And if the excuse is they watched it at a friends house, explain to them that they are no longer allowed to visit that friend. Its very simple and very easy. Its called raising your child and not blaming society or the TV when they put something on you dont agree with.

    What this young man did is sad and unfortunate. What was his parental situation I am curious to find out.. He does needs help but so does everyone involved in this case. Especially the judge for accepting a 60 year sentence suggestion from a minor? I mean cmon. Prison will not help this child, it will only make him worse.

  20. Wow,

    I dont know how to feel. I mean if it was my sister who was attacked I would be calling for blood, if I am honest.

    But what if the boy was my brother?

    I remember the case of the boy in Michigan, who’s name escapes me, that shot a man in apparently cold blood but was seemingly rehabilitated by the time he left custody.

    So I think that people can be helped but 13 year olds do know the difference between right and wrong. If he is mentally ill he should be treated, he should also face the consequences for his actions.

    Regardless of how angry it makes me I don’t think taking a life in return for another is ever justified.

  21. Bishop

    This is a sad day for our american justice system. Therefore it is very true “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Wherefore Discipline must be returned to the homes.

  22. Olivia

    I can sit here are give all the societal and psychological reasons, but that girl is NOT my daughter, sister or niece.

  23. 13 years old, people. It’s the readiness to abandon kids that’s so apparent here that helps things like this happen.

    No, he doesn’t need your sympathy, but he sure as hell doesn’t deserve your condemnation of him to 50+ years in prison.


  24. rene

    -And he will probably be this way at 43! Serial killer in the making here. He doesn’t need another chance to do this again.

  25. Catzmaw

    This young man’s actions were incredibly depraved and callous. I understand the horror at the length of the sentence he was given, but I can also understand the reason why he got this sentence. Unfortunately, sexually predatious pathology is usually well-established at an early stage. And very little of such behavior has anything to do with our society’s lax moral standards. Some people are just conscienceless and predatious, practically from birth. I’ve been involved in a number of cases of young teens who have been deemed sexual predators by their behavior, and it is very difficult to change their underlying pathology even through intensive psychotherapy. If this kid is a sexually sadistic psychopath there is very little which could change him, even at this age. However, I’m troubled that he’s been written off entirely as unsalvageable. The problem isn’t so much that the judge felt obligated to sentence him to a lengthy period of time, but that there were few options available to the court to keep this apparent predator off the street. We don’t know enough about this case, about this kid’s history, about his assessments prior to sentencing. There may have been indications that he was a sexually violent predator. Young as he is, someone like him poses a huge potential danger to society. He could have been a serial killer in training. I have mixed feelings about this, but if the judge had before him pre-sentencing evaluations indicating that this kid is a sexually violent predator, then it’s better to have him off the streets instead of wreaking his havoc unmolested during his twenties and thirties.

  26. H.Swart

    I think it’s not good for a 15 year old to grow up in such a bad envirement. he has to learn from his mistakes and bye putting him in yaill for 60 years only makes him taking it for granted that he’s in there and no longer see the reason why! why not give him a whole new aducation and someone teach the boy some reason. he made a huge mistake and he might even have problems,maybe he’s just nuts bud he’s a kid you can’t just put a kid in yaill for 60 years. what he did is absolutly not ok and i do not aprove under any surcemstances but once again keep in mind that he’s a kid and that adults should be teaching kids to bring out the best in them and don’t take the wrong path in the world, oviously this kid needs someone to tell him what to do and not someone who’s putting him in yaill for 60 years.

  27. S.C.N

    This is horrifying. There are some sick people out there today. However, those assholes of the “Judicial” system should have taken into consideration of maybe he wasn’t right in his mind. I’m white and I definately see a problem. I thought we ended racial prejudice. I guess not. The kid was probably abused himself and was an inward, depressed psychopath. I agree with the sentence, but get some therapy on the kid. He needs help.

  28. Marla K.

    Hello Skeptical Brotha, I greatly appreciate your perspective on Sherman Burnett’s circumstances. It’s alarming to see so many individuals express agreement with the decisions of the “justice system” to sentence this severly disturbed child to sixty years in prison as an answer for society’s sake. Surely we realize we can protect ourselves from emotionally disturbed or mentally ill children without detroying them, if these are our goals. In my experience with juvenile offenders most of them are simply in need of “effective parental guidance and support” while a lesser number require psychiatric treatment,(those acting out violently and sexually like Sherman as you point out have in most cases been violated themselves and are acting out their own pain and outrage) but the overwhelming majority are capable of responding to “sincere” professional rehabilitative programs, including those like Sherman.

    The problem is a political one. The entire idea of “juvenile justice” has been completely politicized. As has been pointed out by a few professional observers there is in fact much less “crime” committed by juveniles than generally believed. This is certainly not to minimize the heinous actions of Sherman Burnett and others who commit similar crimes but to point out that such crimes are committed by a relatively small number of offenders in comparison to the overwhelming majority of youth arrested and being held in juvenile facilities and prisons. Most have committed nonviolent offenses, usually against property, drug use (while some are arrested for sales, more are in for drug use), and some car theft but more often petty theft, and having guns in their possession, not using them. A case like Sherman Burnett’s recieves more publicity and is used by the “justice system” to continue it’s programs of arrest, incarceration, probation, and more incarceration. A primary reason for the politicization of juvenile crime as being out of control and beyond control is because so many in the power structure are living off of these children.
    Lawyers,including judges,police officers,court services workers, jailers including prison wardens,probation officers and the offices and personnel of all these institutions need “juvenile deliquents” to keep them in business, not to forget the politicians whom are elected to office on the false premise of being “hard on crime”. This seems like a code which stands for I will lock up every possible African American. It appears most adult African American males are already incarcerated, either physically ….or mentally. As an African American female I find it extremely disheartening when I hear or read of African American men who believe “African American youth should be incarcerated”. This lack of awareness or self hatred can lead to the end of us.

    My main point is there are many more Genarlo Wilsons incarcerated than there are Sherman Burnetts and an adult prison is not where either belongs given this is supposed to be a civilized society. However, it is up the the African American community to take a stand and put a stop to this madness which is slow, but sure genocide. Juvenile justice should be a primary concern in the African American community, as should be the entire criminal justice system. Take a stand Black Man. I love you.

    Marla K.

  29. Anthony P

    Wow people. First let me say that I am just hearing about this story and so I’m a little late. That said, I’ve had the opportunity to read nearly all of the comments above.

    It’s my opinion that everyone has some valid points what they are making. Those of you who think the kid should be removed from society are correct in my opinion. Those of you who believe he should receive treatment are also correct. But let’s examine both avenues.

    Typically people like to think (and are usually correct) that a child who does something like this has been a victim of some serious mal-treatment himself. Was Sherman in fact victimized? If not, that makes him far more dangerous; a sociopath. If he has been victimized then he deserves treatment.

    Removal from society, that’s a no brainer. But for sixty years? Yes it’s a heinous crime regardless of his age. Yes the little girl suffered more than any human should suffer under any circumstances. However, murders usually get lighter sentences than this.

    Yes there’s racism involved in the justice system. And yes he would have gotten a different sentence if he were Caucasian. But the point is this long story short: This child criminal should be incarcerated for a number years determined by a psychiatrist based on his rehabilitation but not to be less than 15 years. If no rehab happens then he stays in there indefinitely. His release should be based solely on his rehabilitation.

    One thing is for sure, this kid’s life is over. Rehab or not. How can you realistically return to society after being incarcerated for decades. Again rehab or not. I only hope this little girl gets the help she needs to live and grow “normally”

  30. Ohsoluvlee

    If he did this to this child then he is an animal, plain and simple. I get sick of black folks trying to make everything a damn race issue. I am black and even Stevie Wonder can see that this boy (angelic face or not) IS SICK! If he were blue green purple or yellow I would say the same thing… he is an animal, there is probably no hope of rehabilitating him and he should spend the rest of his life in a cage…which is where animals belong.

  31. First of all i must say that he is not all there. At all but he needs help he is not in his right state of mind but the sentence is to to much yes i think it do have something to do with race yes, it is because it he is black this child is only 13 years old i feel if had a been a white person that it never would have been 60 years that just plain wrong no he shouldnt have to spend the rest of his life in prison but yes he do need help I do feel for both family.PS race still in the picture

  32. Shauna

    SB I understand and support you in what you are saying. I wonder what was the race of the victim. The only reason I ask is because the american version of “justice” seems so imbalanced there isnt enough room on the entire internet to list why.
    I see men beat their wives and get probation or less.
    I see one drug addict take the life of another drug addict and get only 5 years imprisonment for MURDER and thats a grown man I am referring to.
    I see SERIAL rapists, KNOWN TO THE POLICE, and with previous convictions only receive 10 years for the rape and brutal beating of a college freshman and that is the guys THIRD conviction for a crime of the same nature.
    I could sit here and list for years and most will not even come CLOSE to comparing to what this judge has sentenced this young boy to.

    My problem is this – he was/is a child also. The law even states that he is a child. I dont understand why a child should be held so harshly accountable for an obvious illness. I agree the risk of him reoffending is great – but so is the risk of all the others out there roaming around the country who have been convicted and released – why should a child receive a harsher punishment than 99% of the male adults convicted of his same crime?

    America needs to make up its mind regarding the age of children and accountability. On one hand we want to string a man up by the penile cord if he touches our 16 year old daughters because he has sexually abused them – the girl doesnt know better she is a mere child – her CONSENT is NOT VALID CONSENT – therefore it holds no weight in a court of law.
    Yet a 13 year old boy who is obviously mentally ill – is FULLY accountable and REQUIRED to know the difference between right and wrong regarding his actions and deeds.

    Why is it that any other mental illness in a child merits them govt assisted health care and a ticket to the short yellow bus in the hopes that they can be assisted via medications and therapy – but this young boy gets no such consideration?

    My heart bleeds for the little female child victim and she shall remain in my prayers. But so shall little Sherman Bernett who is also a child in need of protection, love, and medical help. I cannot imagine what that lil boy must be going through and I am so thankful its not my son. Careful people when you are so quick to tar and feather someone, or label them as animals when they are mere children – but for the Grace of God there go your own.


  33. Dee

    This kid is a monster to walk away from this little girl and not feel anything for her to let her lay there dying. Too many so called kids are committing crimes like this and getting off. In this case I don’t think of it as a racial sentence in this case the little girl was also black and she could be scarred for life, everytime she looks at her torn ear this can spark a traumatic memory should he not endure the same? This girls life could be over, not everyone gets over traumatic experiences from childhood. The same sentence was doled out to a white boy for raping and sodomizing 2 children when he was 16 see the story here: http://www.kmbc.com/news/15190977/detail.html
    I am tired of not holding these so called “kids” responsible. He thought about what he did, he dragged that little girl into the woods for throwing a rock at him, who knows how he had treated her before for her to throw the rock in the first place. She was only six years old did she deserve that? We sometimes forget the victim in order to care for the victimizer.

  34. Ashley JOhnigan

    You people have lost not a little but all of your mind that is a baby have you ever taken a second to think that maybe he was RAPED and thats all he knows did you ever stop to think that could have been you child that is being convicted OH WAIT YOUR NOT BLACK!!! so you want to put the child away LIKE an animal AND how dare you say and i quote “This animal should be put away” All you dumb ASS people and i mean DUMB including his parents how dare you allow these DOGS to down your son I feel that everyone that is involved in this little boys case should be tied down and treated the way you are treating this boy i Bet if he was white you would not be giving him 60 years!!! you people are so crazy you want to lock away a 15 year old boy maybe you should lock you child up!!!!! or maybe you for treating him the way you are!!!!

  35. Justice

    FYI – Ashley Jonigan just killed an innocent women driver in a suspect DUI evasion of police on May 2, 2008. Maybe her self-righteous blogs will come from prison now!

  36. Green feeld


    We’ll have to see what happens next? I know! your ASS going to Jail.
    Anger gets you to nowhere? I dont think so.
    this anger makes us reminds that SHOULD NOT DRINKING AND DRIVING!

    Thank you

  37. 4sOfN8r

    The horrific loss felt by the family, co-workers and friends of Laura Cleaves, the victim of the selfish cowardly Ashley Johnigan, cannot be described. While I appreciate Johnigan’s outrage at the actions of this rapist, I wonder if she will realize with outrage one day, that she is a murderer?

  38. Kati


    Laura was a dear friend of mine and you took her life selfishly. I like how you describe what you think should happen to the boy who got 60 years because I personally hope that happens to you…..

    and last time i checked you were African American so hopefully if you believe that the system puts away people because they are of that descent then you should do even more time!!!

    Karma is a bitch

  39. anono

    katie- im glad laura was your friend but you sound a little racist yourself saying she should do more time cuz of her descent…not everyone is treated equal thats just life

  40. lala

    hey katie- you should probably consider the fact that karma is a bitch and you should let sleeping dogs lie. Ashley is going to get what she desserves no doubt about that but you know what? theres a chance she might not. sometimes that happens, I’m black and I think that saying our race has something to do with our actions is wrong cause could have just as easily been a white man behind the wheel that night. you can be mad but it won’t bring your friend back. no need to throw stones.

  41. Kati

    Anono- Obviously you read my post wrongly or I mis typed it but what I was saying is that I find it very funny that ASHLEY says that she believes that people of African American descent get more time. It had nothing to do with the fact what I believe. I was merely quoting what she had said.

    Lala- your right sometimes people who do horrible things don’t get time and I’m sure that will happen in this case, however, it is still wrong. Laura shouldn’t have died and I believe that Ashley should have to pay because she took her life. An eye for an eye is what I believe. Whether you choose to believe that or not thats fine. I’m not here to make friends but try and se justice brought for the one I lost.

  42. Green feeld

    me again….I know this bitch ashley johnigan. she is CRAZY. she think shes in middle of universe. 2days after the crash, she called me up and she said “I didnt kill nobody” she is CRAZY.

  43. Sunny

    I know this topic is about a year old, but I was just browsing through and found it…and might I say THIS IS TERRIBLE!!

    I think that people and their opinions can go a bit overboard. Yes, it is horrible that this young boy committed this crime, and he very well deserves to be punished. But do we REALLY know what happened?? Only that boy, that helpless victim and God knows what happened. Sometimes the media plays on image, stereotypes and words to try to exaggerate situations into complete falseness. There could have been a million circumstances that followed before that tragic event took place, we will never know. But given the information that was provided (and assuming that the information is true to some degree) let us analyze it: Do we really have to hate the sinner more than the sin? He was a kid, he’s still a kid. We don’t know his story, his background, all we see is “murder, sexual assault” and we begin throwing a barrage of insults at him. Do I think he deserves it? Absolutely, but I’m not biased. Something is obviously very dysfunctional about this kid. If this same thing happened with a white boy, he would’ve been ruled INSANE, am I not right?? All I’m asking is why not weigh the possibility of this kid just having a pretty fucked up childhood (excuse my french). We should all reap what we sow, but there’s no need to be so harsh towards the boy…and I guarantee you every person who left comments regarding animalism and/or what should be done to him wouldn’t say that if it were your family or someone you know ( and I bet you were all white, some things never change…)

  44. Kati


    That is really sorry to hear about Ashley. Funny thing is that she DID kill somebody and the sooner she realizes that the sooner she can accept the fact that she took somebody amazing from this earth. I’m not saying that because I knew Laura. No I’m saying that because of Laura many people have had their lives changed drastically. She was indescribably heroic.

  45. 4sOfN8r

    It is Laura’s heroism that inspires those of us who are her friends and co-workers to do all we can to see justice to crime victims. As it says over the DA’s office entrance, “Law is the voice of the people, justice makes it heard”. Laura lived it every day and we all pray that Laura’s voice will be heard in the court on Ashley’s judgement day.

  46. me

    i’ve know ashely and tried to take of her since she was 15 yrs old! she made NOTHING BUT BAD CHOICES CONSTANTLY, you have no idea! the worst… so its not just race , and its not just could happen to anyone, WE HAVE CHOICES!!!! PAY ATTENTION. i miss her daughter tara

  47. This topic is about a year old and that I am aware of. I feel sorry for that little girl because she’s going to have to live with that for the rest of her life. She’s scarred, she’ll never live down what he did to her IF in fact he did. But did he really assault her. It’s hard to believe that a 13 year old could be so “smart” as to know how to sexually assault someone. Now do I think he deserves to be punished? OF COURSE because I too at 14 was raped by an 18 year old and everyday I have to live with that and it angers me to know that he’s still out there and no action has been taken. Sure I’ve filed police reports, and he did the time in jail but only 4 years and then got a 6 month probation term. That’s not justice enough for me, so I don’t feel sorry for this kid at all because I’ve been through that horrible experience and I know what it’s like to have something so valuable and precious taken from you. But this dude is 13! That judge didn’t even give him a chance, he pretty much threw this kids life away. I do however feel sorry for this kids family because they have to live with the fact that their child is a possible rapist and that’s something no one wants to hear about their own flesh and blood. He does deserve to be punish, but hopefully this case will be reopened and he will at least get a shorter sentence, maybe some counseling, and to be monitored for a while because 60 years is just too much

  48. Dave

    I am guessing that Ashley Johnigan has suffered in some way not too dissimilar from this 8-year-old kid.

    It doesn’t justify it at all, but could possibly help explain it.

  49. Malik7

    It’s just a downright dirty shame that this has happened, especially to a small defenseless child.

    Sherman was a loose cannon waiting to explode, and after the time where he earlier had propositioned a girl to have sex with him for $50.00, that right there was the start of things with his promiscuous

    This schoolyard bully had seized the moment and when opportunity had unfortunately permitted itself, he abducted, dragged his victim into a secluded area beat and raped her the same way a man would beat and rape a woman. Makes you wonder if he saw the same thing happen to his mom.

    Yes, he should be punished, but I think 60 years is too long. maybe half that time.

  50. Tanya

    How can yall people say crucial things about a situation yall no nothing about..was yall there no so you cant say any thing..Dont no body care about what yall think..He was one of my friends and i know that he didnt rape that little girl..And how they just going to let that girl pick is sentences..That wasnt right…And thiz is not based on a race issue but if he was white he would of got that many years..and thats crazi..And if by chance he did(which i know he didn’t) they should of gave him that many years its not worth it..Why yall saying he deserve them years wat happen if that was some body you knew like yall son or cussin would yall still say that about him…And he is not an ANIMAL for those who think that its people worser than that out here killing people..I mean its not to bad she still alive..for more imput on what i wrote e-mail me….mz_babicakes@yahoo.com

  51. Malik7

    I heard that the girl also is black.

    Just for the record, I never was for Sherman getting the full sentense either. He should have been allowed to be evaluated for treatment – and the judge wouldn’t even allow that!!

  52. green field again

    60-years in jail? WOW to the american justice!! dont worry some ppl gets like a 150years in jail….impossible to live that long for humanbeen?
    I dont think this is something matter about race,”oh!!you gave me this bullshit because Im a black!!” this is really bullshit!! thats what black ppl’s excuses all the time! and Im sick of it!!! just like Ashley johnigan does!!
    please!! just think about what is RIGHT or WRONG!!

  53. Malik7

    Just think if it were yourself in Sherman’s shoes.

    Wouldn’t you want a lighter sentense as well yourself?

    And you can’t tell me that you wouldn’t. Think about it. Would it be ok for you to want or get a shorter sentense in the poker when you are so willing for Sherman to be in there for 60?

    You’re not there,s o you don’t know how it feels. So put yourself in Sherman’s place and see how you’d like not being able to see the streets for 60 years, and not being able to hear a car horn, see a street light, hear a dog barking, a baby crying, see street lights or anything else that we all normally hear or see, but he can’t.


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