Outcry over deal in Fresno murder case

June 27, 2013 12:59:59 AM PDT
An outcry from the family of a man shot to death couldn't stop a judge from sending the shooter to prison for 21 years. Andrais Hackett's family wanted his killer locked up a lot longer.

Hackett returned to his family Wednesday, but only in spirit. Hackett hugs his children in a photo memorial printed on a t-shirt, but he won't be a physical presence in their lives any more, and his family is livid.

"It's not about the t-shirt," said his sister, Sharon Hackett. "It's not about winning the case. It's about justice being served."

Hackett's sister and mother are unhappy the prosecutor worked out a plea deal with the shooter -- Jackett's own cousin, James Wynn, Jr.

"She worked against us instead of with us," said his mother, Caroline Wynn Taylor. "She never questioned. She never talked. All her information was wrong."

The deal sends Wynn to prison for 21 years on a voluntary manslaughter conviction. Wynn could've faced a life sentence if convicted on the murder charges originally filed.

Hackett's girlfriend was too afraid to be identified when she testified at an earlier hearing, but she said she heard several gunshots and saw Wynn pull the trigger. She tried to drive Hackett to the hospital, but he died before they got there. When police found his body, they also spotted an item that complicated the case against Wynn.

"Andrais was found to have a loaded 9mm clip in his back pocket when he was ultimately taken out of the car," said Wynn's defense attorney Melina Benninghoff. "The gun wasn't found, but certainly people don't carry clips without a weapon."

Benninghoff says a jury could've easily decided Wynn acted in self-defense. He immediately told officers he thought Hackett had a gun -- a claim buoyed by the victim's two prior convictions for illegal gun possession.

Those convictions were both in 2009 and Hackett's family says he'd left the trouble behind. It found him again last March, though, and even when his killer gets out of prison in his forties, Hackett will be just a memory, and a man on a t-shirt.


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