Teenage gunman sentenced for killing Ethiopian Fresno State engineering student

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The teenage gunman who five years ago killed an innocent man from an Ethiopian immigrant family is now on his way to prison, where he'll turn 40 before his release.

Barket Shita didn't know the people who opened fire at him in his car and he tried to drive to safety, but the Fresno State student couldn't get away.

Shita was born months after his parents came to the United States seeking a better life than the one they left behind in Ethiopia.

But the 26-year-old engineering student became an American gun violence statistic, leaving his family to carry on without him.

His father described the feeling in a letter read by prosecutor Amy Freeman.

"What we are left with are three beautiful children without their adoring father," Freeman read. "What we are left with is his empty chair at the dinner table in our home as an everyday reminder of the terrible loss we have suffered. What we are left with are our broken hearts."

Police originally thought Shita had died in a head-on crash on Blackstone Ave. in September 2016.

But once they got inside his car, they realized someone had shot him to death and he crashed while trying to get away.

Homicide investigators tracked down suspects Kenneth Lee and Devon Fisher and they both got convictions this year.

"His murderers lost themselves, their decency, and their humanity," said Shita's father's statement. "They robbed us our son and our community of one amazing, angelic, decent, hardworking, and bright human being."

Fisher was 16 when he shot Shita, but prosecutors charged him as an adult.

He admitted to voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal and a judge sentenced him to 21 years in prison Friday.

"The only thing I'm going to say to Mr. Fisher, is you're going to be in prison a long time," said Judge Michael Idiart. "Hopefully, you'll have time to think about what you did."

Shita's family has already had time to think about what Fisher did.

They waited more than five years for this day when they can finally start letting go of the grief.

"I promised my late son that if and when justice is achieved, I will unload the heavy burden I've been carrying all this time off my back and try to forgive the people who harmed him, and move on with my life and let the almighty God take care of the rest," Shita's father wrote.

Fisher waived any time credits he earned while in jail the last few years, so the clock starts ticking Friday on his 21-year sentence.

Lee will receive his punishment in a couple weeks.
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