Last month, a Jefferson Parish jury convicted Carey Garrison of manslaughter in the January 2011 shooting death of Anthony Williams after a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Marrero.
The 10-2 verdict wasn’t the second-degree murder conviction sought by District Attorney Paul Connick, but it wasn’t the finding of justifiable homicide sought by Garrison’s attorneys, who said he acted in self-defense.
The verdict gave 24th Judicial District Court Judge June Berry Darensburg wide discretion in her sentencing, and on Tuesday she gave Garrison 30 years in prison, 10 short of the maximum penalty of 40 years.
Darensburg called the repercussions of the shooting “a sad time” and lamented that arguments that used to be settled with fists are now settled with firearms.
“Nowadays, everyone’s quick to grab a gun and start shooting,” she said. “And when you grab a gun and start shooting, that means that someone is going to end up dead.”
Garrison, who turned 21 in August, will receive credit for time served. His lawyer said he would appeal.
Garrison’s case rested on his contention that Williams was looking for him and meant to do him harm. Armed with a gun tucked in his waistband, Williams had gone to the end of Buccola Avenue, where Garrison lived with his extended family.
After an altercation in which witnesses said Garrison grabbed at the gun and wrestled it from Williams’ hands, Garrison shot Williams several times and fled.
Garrison said he blacked out after he fired the first shot, but prosecutors argued the number of shots fired, some of which hit Williams as he was falling down, belied his claim of self-defense.
They also pointed to the conflicting statements he gave after surrendering to police in Mississippi.
On Tuesday, Williams’ sister, Yoktomyra Singleton, read a statement she had prepared, along with those from his other siblings. She broke down as she described seeing Anthony lying dead on the ground that day.
“I pleaded with God to let him get up and be safe, and it didn’t happen,” she said.
Singleton said she didn’t know what happened that day, but asked, “Was the argument so important, worth two lives being taken, both Carey’s and Tony’s?”
She told Garrison he was wrong to “let the devil use you.”
“You cannot make me believe he was going to do anything to warrant you shooting him eight times. You cannot make me believe that,” she said.
Garrison, who was expressionless during the sentencing, told the judge and Williams’ family that he was only protecting himself. He asked Williams’ siblings to realize that if he hadn’t done so, it would have been his family there delivering impact statements to the judge.
“Carey, did you mean for this to happen?” defense attorney Andrew Duffy asked.
“No,” Garrison replied. “I was protecting myself. I was scared.”
“Have mercy on me,” he said. “Forgive me.”
Singleton also read a statement from Williams’ sister Erica, who said her brother “wasn’t perfect, but he was human too.” She mourned that her young son will never meet his uncle.
Anthony Williams’ brother, Christopher, wrote that “things just aren’t the same without him around. Eighteen years old is too young to lose your life.”
Christopher Williams wrote that he forgives Garrison and prays for his family, but that “I want justice for Anthony. He deserves that much.”
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.