GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) - Michael White’s mother brought an urn of the slain teen’s ashes to court Wednesday, telling his young killers “this is what I’m left with.’’
“I miss him every day,’’ Kelly Ann Hogan told the pair. “Our family will never be the same.’’
Quentin Schafer and Carlos Delgado, both 15, looked down as she spoke. They pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder for the death of White, a 16-year-old junior at Wyoming Park High School.
His body was found March 19 by a man walking his dog at Lions Park in Wyoming. They were arrested within a few days and on Wednesday were both sentenced to a minimum of 40 years behind bars.
A 2012 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court affords them a chance of getting out of prison before they’re old men.
Their attorneys asked that Schafer and Delgado serve a minimum of 30 years, saying both are remorseful.
Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Gerard E. Faber objected.
“This was a savage, brutal, premeditated murder and we are asking for the full 40 years,’’ he told the court.
Kent County Circuit Court Judge George S. Buth agreed.
“This is a brutal, senseless murder,’’ the judge said. “I think we all realize that, especially you two defendants. This is a tragedy all the way around, especially for the victim here and his family.’’
Buth sentenced them to between 40 and 75 years in prison. They’ll be in their mid-50s before they can be considered for parole.
“I would just add that it’s a tragedy for you two and your friends and family,’’ the judge said.
White was found beaten and stabbed at Lions Park on Dunbar Avenue SW. He left home 11 p.m. the night before and never came back.
After planning to kill White for about a week, his teen assailants used a knife, brass knuckles and White’s own skateboard to attack him before changing out of their bloody clothes and calling it a night.
Those chilling details emerged during a May preliminary hearing.
“Just stop, just leave me, just leave me here to die,’’ a mortally wounded White told his younger assailants, a detective testified at the earlier hearing in Wyoming District Court.
Wyoming detective D.J. Verhage said Delgado admitted to the slaying after being grilled about blood-soaked jeans found in his room.
Detectives tracked down Delgado after cell phone data indicated he’d been in contact with White the night White died.
Schafer was also identified as a suspect based partly on Facebook posts, according to earlier testimony.
DNA from Delgado’s jeans, Schafer's black T-shirt and brass knuckles recovered at Lions Park tied the teens to the murder. The assailants fled with a designer belt taken from White’s waist, police said.
An autopsy revealed a puncture to White’s right lung, which alone could have been fatal. He also had a punctured kidney, fractures to his upper and lower jaw and a fractured skull.
Detectives found a broken knife, brass knuckles and White’s blood-covered skateboard near his body.
Schafer and Delgado were prosecuted under Michigan’s automatic waiver law, which allows prosecutors to charge 15 and 16-year-olds as adults for serious crimes, such as murder.
Mandatory life sentences are no longer a foregone conclusion for teens convicted of first-degree murder. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 struck down automatic life terms with no chance of parole for teenage killers.
Michigan law was updated in 2014, allowing judges to consider a term of between 25 and 60 years for young people convicted of first-degree murder. Judges still have the option to sentence teens to mandatory life without parole.