WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ/CNN) – A 17-year-old who admitted to robbing and killing a man smiled and chuckled during his sentencing Monday.
The behavior angered the judge so much that he asked prosecutors to take the case to trial instead of accepting a plea deal.
Danta Wright sat in court smiling and nearly laughing as Jordan Klee’s mother shed tears for her son, shot and killed by Wright.
“I’ve lost laughter and love. I no longer have the hope of having grandchildren,” said cousin Courtney Klee, reading from the mother’s statement. “I’ve lost the enjoyment of holidays, birthdays and of everyday life.”
Wright addressed the court, showing no remorse.
“I just want to tell you all I’ll be home soon,” Wright said. “I love my family.”
The judge, clearly fed up with the defendant’s attitude, stopped the proceedings and asked the prosecution to consider taking this case to trial. Wright would face a stiffer punishment if found guilty by a jury.
“I’ve been watching you sit there, smile and laugh and shake your head like this was no big deal,” said Washtenaw County Court Judge David Swartz. “I’m very tempted to just say I’m not going to accept this sentence agreement. You will go to trial, and if you’re convicted of felony murder, you’ll go to prison for the rest of your life and that means you’ll die there.”
This is not the first time the teen had shocked the courtroom. During a June pretrial hearing, he admitted he shot and killed 18-year-old Jordan Klee.
Wright said he and two other friends were trying to rob the victim in October 2016, when he shot Jordan Klee in the back of the head, killing him.
The victim, a senior at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, was described as a high-achieving student and football athlete.
“This year was supposed to be a year of celebration, of senior pictures with prom, graduation and parties,” read Courtney Klee from the mother’s statement. “Instead it was a nightmare, a nightmare no parent should ever endure.”
Ultimately, Jordan Klee’s family decided not to take this case to trial and to move forward with the sentencing.
Defense attorney David Goldstein apologized on behalf of the 17-year-old.
“His smiling was in no way meant as disrespectful either to the family, to the victim or to this court,” Goldstein said.
Wright was sentenced to 23 to 50 years for armed robbery, felony firearm and second-degree murder of Jordan Klee. Two other teens that pleaded guilty for their roles in the murder are scheduled to be sentenced in September.
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