MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A teen who accidentally shot and killed a classmate on a school bus in south Miami-Dade almost two years ago has accepted a plea deal.
Jordyn Howe, 16, was charged as an adult with manslaughter, possession of a firearm and possession of a concealed weapon for the shooting which claimed the life of 13-year old Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus.
Miami-Dade County Court Judge Ellen Sue Venzer sentenced Howe to juvenile sanctions which Ron Book, the attorney for Guzman-DeJesus’ family, called ‘heroic.’
Howe will serve a year at a juvenile facility in Central Florida. After his release, he will have to perform community service and do speeches at schools where he addresses the dangers of guns.
“The loss of this precious child could potentially save the life of many, many others,” said Venzer.
Howe will also report to the court every month until he is 21-years old.
Howe’s defense attorney Gale Lewis had asked the judge if his client could plead no contest instead of guilty as part of the deal because of civil ramifications. But Venzer denied that request saying “There is something to taking responsibility.” She added that no matter what he pled there would be ramifications.
During the hearing Guzman-DeJesus’ mother Ady became very emotional reading a her statement to the court.
“It is with sadness, continuation of pain and a very heavy heart that I am here today,” said Guzman-DeJesus who spoke of unspeakable loss.
Guzman-DeJesus agreed to the plea deal. Judge Venzer said the ability Guzman-DeJesus to forgive Howe gave him a “new lease on life.”
At one point during the hearing, apolized to Guzman-DeJesus and asked for forgiveness. He then hugged her and she hugged him back.
“Justice is done. I miss her and I really do forgive him,” said Guzman-DeJesus.
The shooting happened Thanksgiving week 2012 in Homestead.
In addition to Howe, there were eight other students on the bus including Guzman-DeJesus who were being taken to Palm Glades Preparatory Academy and Summerville Advantage Academy.
During the ride, Howe reportedly took out a .40 caliber handgun which he had taken from the home he shares with his mother. The family reportedly did not realize that the gun was missing until they got a call from police. Howe allegedly told investigators that he knew the gun was loaded but still passed it around the bus. At one point the gun went off, a bullet striking Guzman-DeJesus in the neck.
Guzman-DeJesus, who also went by Jina, was airlifted after the shooting to Miami Children’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.