Plea bargain keeps Dollar General murder suspect in juvenile system

A plea bargain brokered in the murder of a Dollar General clerk will keep the teenager accused of killing her in the juvenile system.

The 15-year-old was caught on tape shooting Gabrielle Simmons, a mother of six, as he tried to rob her in November. He dropped the cash register drawer and got no money.

That plea deal negotiated this week sentences the teen to what’s called a 35-year determinant sentence. He will not be certified as an adult and if he does everything he is supposed to do in the juvenile system, he could be eligible for parole in three to four years.

“Even if he doesn’t do well and he's transferred to TDC, it's still more humane for a 15 to 16-year-old to be in the juvenile system than to be over here or to be in a system with adults,” said George Ashford, the teen’s lawyer.

If the teen messes up at some point during the next few years, he would be put behind bars for 35 years.

The fiancé' of the victim was involved in the plea negotiations and agreed to the sentence.

“It was one of the best decisions, so I just went with what was the best thing,” said fiancé Aris Joseph.

Pastor Nickie Chance, whose Calvary Philadelphia Missionary Baptist Church is near the dollar General, feels the sentence is not justice.

"I don’t think the community will understand that,” Chance said. “When you look at the nature of the crime, one would probably say the heinousness of the crime, it would be very hard for somebody to reconcile even if he was 15."

Joseph said all six of the kids are generally doing well, but they also have some challenging days.

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