Sobbing mother addresses son's killer

Neb Townsend sits with his head down while Yetaunda Strong, the mother of the man he killed, speaks during his guilty plea Monday.
Staff Writer

A sobbing mother asks the 32-year-old man who killed her son, "Why?" but says she doesn't wish severe harm on him because, "It won't bring my son back."

Nebauchedezzar "Slim" Townsend pleaded guilty Monday in Clay County Circuit Court to the reduced charge of second degree murder in the Oct. 2, 2015, shooting death of 20-year-old Chaderick Strong.

As part of a plea agreement, Judge Lee Howard sentenced Townsend to 30 years in prison.

Strong died during a drug transaction that went awry inside a unit at Point Place apartments. Townsend was pistol-whipping Strong with a handgun when the gun went off, shooting Strong in the head, Assistant District Attorney Marc Amos said during Monday's plea hearing.

"It was not premeditated. We have witnesses who would testify to the circumstances and he has admitted to accidentally shooting the victim while pistol-whipping him," Amos told the court, explaining the reason for the reduced charge from capital murder, which was the original indictment.

Investigators originally were told Townsend was robbing Strong, prompting the capital murder charge. That evidence changed after the indictment.

Some of Townsend's relatives wept quietly in the courtroom at Judge Howard read through the legal questions that are part of a guilty plea.

Townsend, who has no prior felony convictions and one misdemeanor marijuana conviction, faced up to 40 years in prison.

Before Judge Howard imposed the sentence, an emotional Yetaunda Strong, the victim's mother, tearfully told Townsend and the judge what the death has meant to her and her family.

"Did you feel any kind of sadness...I just don't see i," she said, weeping as she recounted how she lost her job because she couldn't function.

"I just want to know why, that's all. I just want to know why," she said, looking at Townsend who hung his head and did not look at her.

"It's not going to bring my child back," she continued, covering her eyes with her hand during a long pause, noting she attends group therapy meetings as part of rebuilding her life. "Nobody feels the way I feel, nobody.

"I really feel sorry for him...I don't want nobody to lose their child, it's not a good feeling," she concluded, sobbing with her hands covering her eyes.

"There's nothing we can do to bring this man back to life," Judge Howard told Townsend as he stood with his lawyer, Mark Williamson.

"There is no why other than your conduct," he continued, ordering the 30-year sentence.

The judge did not impose a fine, noting it would be "futile" in terms of ever trying to collect it.

Two co-defendants, Tevin Demetrius Hodges and Jarvis Williams, are indicted as accessories after the fact. They could plead guilty this week, Amos said.

After Monday's hearing, Townsend's parents met privately with Yetaunda Strong, apparently to offer their condolences and apologies.