The father a young man gunned down last year wants every young person in the community stop the violence.
Steven Davenport wants them to have a chance at life. To not use or sell drugs and to avoid violence at all cost.
Davenport is in a position he never wants anyone to be in and doesn’t wish on his worst enemy. He’s the father of a dead child.
“You should never bury your children. It should be the other way around. It’s not natural,” he said after one of his son’s killers pleaded guilty Wednesday and was sentenced to prison.
Just days before his trial was to begin, Randell Howard Jr., 20, pleaded guilty to murder with a gun. He was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. He was originally charged with aggravated murder with a gun and had faced the chance of spending the rest of his life in prison.
The prosecution agreed to take a last-minute plea deal that had been on the table after Howard informed his attorney he was willing to accept the offer. Davenport barely had enough time to get to the courthouse and the rest of the family didn’t make it, he said.
Prosecutors accepted the deal before Howard changed his mind.
Davenport was emotional and upset his family could not make it. But he was even more upset Howard never apologized or offered an explanation.
As far as Davenport knew, his son was friends with Howard and the other man accused of killing him. They were together earlier in the day shopping and he had video his son recorded of them having fun together.
He’s said he doesn’t know what led to the shooting.
Howard and Mikel Johnson were charged in the June 24 shooting death of 20-year-old Joshua Davenport. Davenport was shot multiple times in the 700 block of Albert St.
Howard had little to say other than ask if he could hug his mother before he left for prison. Johnson, 19, is scheduled to stand trial May 12.
Davenport said he moved back to Lima from Columbus three years ago to be closer to his son. He is remarried but wanted a closer relationship with his son in Lima.
Now, he’s left picking up the pieces of his life, which has seemed to have shattered before him.
Davenport knows he cannot bring his son back but is hoping young people learn from his murder.
“I will do anything I can do to stop the violence,” he said. “I was sentenced to life without my son.”
Davenport, whose grandfather was the former chief of police, William Davenport, said young people need to realize they are getting used by the hierarchy of the drug trade.
“All these kids are running around with people older than me. I’m 46 years old,” he said. “They are using these kids. They are pimping them.”
Older people use young and naïve children and adults in the drug trade because they know they will get a lighter sentence, he said.
Davenport said the drug trade really changed after the mid-1980s. It swallowed up children and became violent and deadly.
“The streets are just as much as an institution as any college or university. They will teach you. If parents don’t teach their children the streets will. The streets will take your children, raise them and give them back to you to bury,” he said.
Davenport urges every parent to be involved in their child’s life to give them a chance.
“Parents, please, please, please ask your children what they are doing. Sit down at the dinner table with them. Be part of your children’s lives,” he said.
Davenport said his generation has dropped the ball and allowed the world to change to the way it has. But he also said it does not have to be that way.
“We need to pick the ball back up. There’s too many kids getting killed on a daily basis,” he said.
By Greg Sowinski - The Lima News, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio)
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