Criminal Case Outcomes Leave Families Dissatisfied

June 1, 2023 - Two tragic deaths which have occurred in the Shelby County area over the past couple years have reached resolutions in their cases involving the accused, and families left behind in both situations are not happy with the outcomes.

The first incident, which took place in February 2020, involved the death of Angel De La Rosa, who was 16 at the time, at the hands of Heston Avery, who was then 17, through the discharge of a shotgun.

Avery was initially charged with criminally negligent homicide, state jail felony.

According to court documents, through a plea agreement with the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office Avery pleaded guilty to manslaughter, 2nd degree felony, on January 23, 2023. He received 10 years deferred adjudication probation, a fine of $6,000 at a rate of $55 a month, court costs of $300, 60 hours of community service restitution. He’s required to pay a fee of $60 a month to the supervision officer of the court, and a fee of $5 per month for substance abuse testing.

Restitution was not assessed, nor a Court Appointed Attorney fee.

The next incident took place in May 2022, involving the death of Kelton Tremaine Jones, who was 22, also the result of the discharge of a firearm but this time at the hands of Reggie Lamar Daniels, who was 22 as well at the time.

Daniels was charged with manslaughter, 2nd degree felony, and according to court documents on April 19, 2023, he pleaded guilty and agreed to a plea bargain with the Shelby County District Attorney’s office of eight years deferred adjudication probation, a fine of $3,000 at a rate of $35 per month, court costs of $300. Daniels is also required to pay a supervision fee of $60 per month to the supervision officer of the court. Daniels is also required to perform 100 hours of community service at a minimum rate of 16 hours per month and during the period of community supervision, pay a fee 0f $5 per month for substance abuse testing.

Restitution was not assessed, and a Court Appointed Attorney fee was not required.

In both instances family members of the victims have reached out to Shelby County Today and expressed upset over the outcomes of the cases.

Shelby County Today made contact with Karren Price, Shelby County District Attorney, regarding the concerns of family. 

“They seem to believe that they have some control over the outcome. And, I understand the misconception, but it's still a misconception that they have control of the outcome and that I represent them individually, because that's not the law,” said Price. “That's hard, and I get it completely. But what they all fail to understand is that I have to make these decisions on evidence, not on what I want to be the outcome.”

Price referred to the Avery case in which he agrred to probation, and she said she had explained that to the De La Rosa family; however, she says they couldn’t accept that as even a potential outcome.

“I understand that their son, their baby's gone. I get it. But they can't, and I understand that, but I can't change that,” said Price. 

Although, the outcome may not have been what the families were seeking in both cases, Price suggests that it’s more than would have resulted when presented to a jury.

“I waited a year for Ms. De La Rosa to come to grips with it and asked her, talk to the family over and over. I came three or four different times. I contacted her, ‘Please understand that it's evidence and not emotion, that I have to make these decisions on.’ And the evidence tells me that the jury will give him probation, and she just couldn't accept that.”

In the case of Reggie Daniels, while there was an eye witness in that case, Price says there was no one in the car or close enough to the car to show anything indicated that anybody was mad at anything, to suggest a malicious intent.

“I think it's youthful stupidity in both these cases that has a terrible and predictable outcome in both events. But are either of these young men, premeditated murderers? The evidence doesn’t support that,” said Price.

At least one of the families involved has written a letter to the editor (Letter to the Editor: “Gone Too Soon”), and Price responded to the allegation that the decision to put Daniels on probation was somehow racially motivated.

“I have a couple of cases pending that are, absolutely murder cases. One is probably defensible, the other is a straight up murder, and the victims are black in those cases. And, they're on the trial docket,” said Price. “So, I think it's unfair to label me as not caring about black on black crime. I'm fighting it about as fast and as hard as I can under the circumstances. So I don't think folks who actually live here and are involved in this community believe that about this office.”

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