A Bonner Springs teenager who killed his father after what he described as years of abuse was sentenced Monday to five years and four months in a juvenile facility.
Dalton Gay, 16, was 14 when he shot Darren Gay to death in July 2013. If he commits any new crimes while under juvenile court supervision, he could face a 147-month adult prison sentence.
Gay read a statement Monday in which he took full responsibility.
“I felt trapped and afraid,” he said. “I know I’ve done wrong and will make the best of whatever I get.”
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He pleaded guilty Sept. 30 to second-degree murder.
He initially was charged with first-degree murder, and Johnson County prosecutors had sought to have him tried as an adult. If convicted of that adult charge, he would have faced life in prison.
But Johnson County District Judge Tom Foster ruled that the case should remain in the juvenile division of Johnson County District Court. That means Dalton can only be held in custody until he turns 22 1/2, but he will receive follow-up monitoring until he turns 23.
Defense attorney Trey Pettlon asked for a sentence of three years, saying the facts presented at an earlier court hearing “cry out for mercy today.”
Gay killed his father because he was afraid of him, Pettlon said. He described Gay at the time of the killing as a 14-year-old child whose actions should not be judged by what an adult would have done.
But Assistant District Attorney Don Hymer asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence and keep Gay in custody until he is 22 and a half.
Even if Gay’s accusations of abuse were true, he was not justified in committing such a “calculated cold” murder, Hymer said.
Taking turns on the witness stand, family members described Darren Gay as a dedicated father who loved his son more than anything.
Darren Gay’s older brother, Robert Gay, said the abuse allegations were hearsay and that Darren never had a chance to defend himself.
Another brother, Chris Gay, said there was no truth to the allegation that Darren Gay was a sexual abuser. He called Dalton Gay a “sick young man” who showed no fear or remorse “just hate.”
The shooting occurred July 2, 2013, outside a Shawnee auction business owned by Dalton Gay’s mother and stepfather. When Darren Gay, 46, arrived to pick up his son for a visit, Dalton Gay took a handgun out of his bag and emptied its 16-round magazine into his father’s car, striking his father with several bullets.
Dalton later told police that he had taken the gun from his stepfather’s locked gun safe after finding the key that morning.
In subsequent interviews with police and mental health professionals, Dalton Gay described a relentless torrent of emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his father.
Dalton was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse, and mental health professionals testified that they did not think he was a threat to the public.