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Two men get 20 years each in shooting death


NATCHEZ — Two men were each sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for the shooting death of a Natchez woman at the Natchez Youth Center on Dec. 30.

Kristopher Nelson, who was 17 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 21-year-old Destiney Kennedy, and Fredrick Washington Jr., 25, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder.

Judge Lille Blackmon Sanders sentenced both of them to 20 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections on Monday afternoon after hearing testaments from Destiney’s mother, Sarah “Hope” Thorp, and Destiney’s brother, Jerad Kennedy.

Thorp said she and her daughter were driving with Destiney’s 4-year-old son in the back seat when Destiney asked to stop at the Natchez Youth Center to see her brother, Jerad.

“As soon as I heard the shots, I turned and looked at Destiney. Her face was blank,” Thorp said, in tears. “She was my daughter. … She was my best friend. I’m just lost without her.”

Thorp said she drove Destiney to a nearby Dollar General and asked for help. Destiney was later transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she died after being taken off of life support four days later, Thorp said.

Jerad said he had been communicating with Nelson through phone calls and text messages and asked his sister to deliver marijuana to Nelson at the center.

Nearly a year later, Jerad said the tragedy changed his life. He joined the army and graduated from the 25 Bravo course, a specialized military occupational training in computer technology.

“There’s no way to explain how I felt,” Jerad said. “It should’ve been me. … It was a wake-up call — a big wake-up call.”

Nelson said he had intended to buy marijuana from Destiney and — carrying a gun — attempted to rob her from outside the vehicle.

Washington said he knew about the plan to buy marijuana, but knew nothing about the robbery.

After hearing the testimony, Sanders said the only thing she knew for sure is that a woman is dead, and both men were somehow involved and gave them both an equal sentence of 20 years at the MDOC.

Other sentences Monday afternoon include Kevin T. Williams and Michelle Johnson.

Williams, who pleaded guilty to non-habitual burglary of a dwelling and failure to register as a sex offender was sentenced to 15 years in the MDOC for burglary of a dwelling and an additional five years in the MDOC for failure to register as a sex offender.

Johnson, who pleaded guilty of felony shoplifting, was sentenced to three years in the MDOC.