A Hamilton teen who pleaded guilty to the shooting death of her father, James Ponder, will spend at least six years in a juvenile prison.
The teen, now 15, was in Butler County Juvenile Court on Monday for an emotional sentencing in which she and family members sobbed. Last month she pleaded guilty to murder and a gun specification. She was originally charged with aggravated murder.
On Feb. 23, 2017, the girl, then a high school freshman, picked up a 9mm handgun, loaded it and shot him in the head at their Millville Avenue home, according to police and prosecutors.
“I just shot my dad,” she told 911 dispatchers in a call placed moments after the shooting. She was arrested on the driveway of the family home when police arrived.
James Ponder Jr. said during the hearing in Judge Kathleen Romans’ courtroom that he believes his teen sister was coerced into shooting his father.
“She’s a 14-year-old girl. I don’t think it is possible for her to have done this on her own,” Ponder Jr. said
A motive of the slaying has not been been offered and was not during Monday’s sentencing.
Defense attorney Matt Fritsch told the judge that his young client has no previous criminal background and that she had accepted responsibility for her actions.
The teen declined to speak before sentencing.
Ponder’s older daughter, Consuella Mendoza, stood not far from the teen and sobbed as she remembered her father.
“This is very hard,” Mendoza said. “My world stopped spinning … my daddy was priceless.”
Ponder’s sister-in-law, Jennifer Willman, said to the teen, “you destroyed happiness in our family.”
The grieving family members were all dressed in plaid for the hearing because James Ponder Sr. always wore plaid.
This news organization is not naming the teen because she is charged as a juvenile.
Romans sentenced the girl to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until her 21st birthday.
The teen received a blended sentence from the judge, meaning in addition to the juvenile sentence, an adult sentence could be imposed if she does not behave in the juvenile prison.
Romans gave the teen a mandatory adult sentence of 18 years to life in prison, if it is imposed after the juvenile sentence.
Prosecutors had requested the teen be tried as an adult, but Romans ruled the teen’s case would remain in juvenile court.
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