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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - The mother of 17-year-old Severn Jefferson told a federal judge Wednesday she didn't want her son's killer, Jonathan Youngbear, to go to prison.
'I don't blame him … it was the alcohol and drugs,” Justine Youngbear, tearing up, said making a victim's impact statement. 'You are just a kid and got in with bad people.”
Jonathan Youngbear, 21, said he was sorry for what he did. He wouldn't have if he was sober.
'It's not an excuse,” Youngbear told Jefferson's mother. 'I have taken away someone you loved. I wasn't in my right mind. I hope you can forgive me one day.”
Jonathan Youngbear said Jefferson was a close friend, 'like a brother to me,” and he will miss him every day.
U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade, after much questioning and reviewing the crime, sentenced Youngbear to 25 years in federal prison, which was the bottom of the sentencing range.
He pleaded guilty in January to second-degree murder and faced up to 35 years, which was part of the plea agreement. Without the plea agreement, Reade could have sentenced him up to life.
Youngbear, a member of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi, admitted during a plea hearing last January that he stabbed and killed Jefferson with a kitchen knife Feb. 24, 2014 in his home.
The two had an argument and Youngbear's cousin, Joseph Youngbear, told police Jonathan came up behind Jefferson while he was sitting on the couch, motioned to him to be quiet, and then stabbed Jefferson. The upper stab wound cut Jefferson's jugular vein and the lower stab wound cut his subclavian artery, which resulted in his death.
Reade questioned Youngbear's attorney regarding how the alcohol and methamphetamine in his system affected his actions the day he killed Jefferson.
Diane Helphrey, Youngbear's attorney, in asking for a 25-year sentence, argued the alcohol and meth affected his perception and that he didn't understand the argument going on that day between him and Jefferson. She referenced the differences in his behavior from when he was booked into jail and hours later when he was interviewed by police and seemed more coherent.
Youngbear's other attorney, Timothy Ross-Boon, argued in a previous hearing, attempting to keep statements by Youngbear out of trial, that he was too drunk or under the influence to understand his rights or the questions during the police interview.
Reade, who saw videos of his booking and police interview, said she couldn't tell if Youngbear's behavior was remorse or just emotions from 'coming off” drugs and alcohol. Reade said she had never seen a heavy user of alcohol and marijuana like Youngbear commit murder.
'So what do I make of that?” Reade said.
Helphrey pointed out this wasn't 'typical behavior” for him. He is described by his family as being gentle and timid.
'He intentionally stabbed him two times with a knife in the neck and chest,” Reade said. 'He was a 17-year-old child. He then attempted to move the body from the room, down the hallway.”
Reade also pointed out Youngbear's history of drug abuse including daily use of marijuana and alcohol and several months leading up to the killing he used meth, an '8-ball” (or 3.5 grams) daily. He also has used cocaine, K-2 or synthetic marijuana, mushrooms and cough syrup. He had a chance to get treatment but she doesn't know if he completed it and apparently didn't change.
Reade said it was a 'difficult decision” for her but would give him the 25 years. She also ordered him to pay $3,026 in victim restitution serve a five-year term of supervised release after his prison time.