32-year sentence in Derrion Albert beating death

August 29, 2011 4:18:42 PM PDT
The last suspect convicted in the 2009 videotaped beating death of a Chicago student has been sentenced to 32 years in state prison.

Lapoleon Colbert was convicted in June of first-degree murder, the same charge four other suspects in the beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert faced. They either were convicted or pleaded guilty.

Colbert is 20 years old. He was convicted after jurors heard a taped interview in which he admitted kicking Albert at least once in the head. The fight was near a high school on the city's South Side where both attended school.

After apologizing to the Albert family for his role in the videotaped beating, Colbert asked Judge Nicholas Ford for leniency. He said, "this is my first offense, have some mercy on me."

All the others charged as adults were sentenced to at least 25 years behind bars, with one suspect tried as a juvenile ordered to remain imprisoned until he turns 21.

The case prompted a national debate on youth violence after the video, which was captured on a cell phone, went viral on the Internet.

The beating happened in September 2009 when teenagers from the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex got into a fight. Lapoleon Colbert admitted to police that he kicked Albert at least once in the head and stomped on his body when Albert was defenseless.

Colbert's father, who waited at the courthouse all morning, said they plan to appeal the sentence once it is handed down. He said he does not believe his 20-year-old son is a murderer. He said that he is sorry for his son's actions and that if he could reverse what happened, he would.

"The sentence was hurtful but just the way the judge explained it 'cause my son could have walked away. I'd like to apologize to the Albert family and let them know my deepest concern goes out to their son," said Anthony Dawson, Colbert's father.

While Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez called the prosecution of five suspects swift, for the Albert family, it's been a long two years.

"As far as our family is concerned, maybe we can start to truly grieving and going through this process. It's been very tedious up to this point," said Norman Golliday, Albert's grandfather.

Albert's mother has been coming to court and hasn't missed a day.

"Great. Thirty two years, give it to him, let him have it, he deserves it," said Anjanette Albert.

"I hope that he kids are listening. Because it is clearly an example that if you make a decision it can affect you the rest of your life," said Alvarez.

The beating death prompted several safety changes within the Chicago Public School system

"I don't know about the changes they are making at the schools, I wish that they had something in place before my son's life was taken," said Albert.

Three others -- two charged as adults and one charged as a juvenile -- were convicted of murder by a jury. A fourth defendant pleaded guilty to murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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