Man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2015 shooting death of Longs teen

Man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2015 shooting death of Longs teen

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - A man pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 14-year old Taizaun Dewitt.

The Longs teen was shot and killed in May of 2015.

On Monday, Rodrez Stanley was sentenced to spend four years behind bars following his plea.

While the moment marked a point of conclusion for the case, it did not bring closure to Dewitt's mother, Kissey Melvin.

"Four years doesn't measure up to the price of taking someone's life. I felt it was cruel and an injustice," Melvin said. "If we are continuously having these shootings and murders in our communities, if the justice system that we put our hope and confidence in, if they don't give any justice and send a message to deter criminals, if you can shoot and kill someone and get five or six years, that's not going to make a change."

Senior Assistant Solicitor Josh Holford said Stanley admitted to having a gun and says he accidentally shot Dewitt.

However, Stanley was initially charged with murder because of a statement made by a woman who said she overheard the defendant talking about murdering Dewitt days later.

She then reportedly told the solicitor's office that she would rather go to jail than testify at trial.

Even two girls that drove Dewitt to the hospital the night of the shooting wouldn't provide much information to the solicitor's office, according to Holford.

"The Solicitor's Office would love if those communities would reject this culture of violence, stand up and speak out against the violence they see in their communities," Holford said. "In order to put someone away for a long time, there has to be people that stand up and tell what they saw."

Dewitt's mother shared the same message following the plea deal and sentencing.

"I'm sad for the community because they still don't realize the injustices that we commit against each other and that one is for not talking, for not standing up for that baby," Melvin said. "We didn't give any justice for that baby and all of our hands are responsible for it because we didn't speak; they didn't speak up."

Holford added that the community the crime occurred in, in this case as in others, a lot of people claim they didn't see anything or don't know who was present.

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