In an impassioned 10-minute denouncement Friday of the 40-year sentence given to Marksville deputy marshal Derrick Stafford in the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy, Stafford's aunt, Bertha Andrews, blasted the jury's verdict as a "lynching" and said race -- Stafford is black and both Christopher Few and Jeremy Mardis are white -- motivated the entire case.
"If it had been two white men who killed that little baby, it would've been justifiable homicide. If it had been a black baby, it would've been justifiable homicide," Andrews said to a gaggle of reporters and television cameras before turning her ire on the media, which she blamed for "demonizing" her nephew.
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Andrews also said she's hopeful the prosecution and everyone who has "hatred in their heart," die and "go to hell."
Stafford, 33, and a fellow deputy, Norris Greenhouse Jr., opened fire on a small SUV driven by Christopher Few at the end of a two-mile pursuit through Marksville on Nov. 3, 2015, critically wounding Few and killing Mardis, Few's autistic 6-year-old son.
A video of the shooting, captured on the body camera of a third officer and shown several times during the trial, shows Few raising his hands out the window of the Kia Sportage during the shooting. Prosecutors argued that Few posed no danger to anyone and that the officers stood a safe distance away when they riddled the vehicle with gunfire.
The jury rejected Stafford's claim he fired only in self-defense during the fatal encounter, which came after Few turned onto a dead-end street. Stafford fired 14 rounds — at least three of which were later recovered from Jeremy's body — while Greenhouse fired four times.
Stafford maintained in tearful testimony he never knew Jeremy was in the car.
Stafford, who was indicted on counts of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, was convicted on a 10-2 jury vote of the lesser charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.
Advocate staff writer Bryn Stole contributed to this report.
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