Last year, Ohio teen Julius Ervin Tate, Jr., was fatally shot by police officers during a sting operation, but it was the teen’s girlfriend Masonique Saunders — and not the officers — who was arrested and charged with “felony murder” for her role in his death.
Now, Saunders has reached a plea deal in the case of Tate.
In a report from WOSU, Saunders pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery to avoid being tried as an adult. The decison was announced by Franklin County Judge James Brown Thursday. Saunders faces up to three years in prison but can be released early after two years based on good behavior.
Columbus Police sought to try Saunders as an adult (she was 16 when the incident took place), with Franklin County Prosecutor O’Brien saying that trial as an adult is mandatory for murder charges. However, the Prosecutor’s Office ended up accepting Saunders plea deal to lesser charges.
The incident that the case stems from took place in December of last year.
Undercover police set up a meeting on social media with Tate to buy something from him but the meeting was actually a sting operation. Police claimed that Tate drew a gun on an officer during the meeting.
“The suspect approached the officer, produced a weapon, robbed the officer,” Columbus police spokesperson Sgt. Chantay Boxill said. “At that time the cover officer fired at the suspect.”
The police accused Tate of committing at least two previous armed robberies, while Saunders was charged with his murder since she was with Tate at the scene of the crime.
“Under what historically has been called ‘felony murder,’ which means that you’re still responsible for a murder if you cause the death of another as an approximate result of committing certain kinds of serious offenses,” police spokesperson Denise Alex-Bouzounis said at the time.
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