Jordan Poirier’s 5-year-old daughter was not in court Thursday when a man pleaded guilty to killing her father. So her grandmother, Debbie Hernandez, spoke for the girl.
“The saddest thing I’ve heard my granddaughter say is that she wishes she could die too, so she could be with him,” Hernandez, 40, said.
Laterrious Demonte Ashley of Rock Hill pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to shooting Poirier, 20, at the Stone Haven apartment complex off of Celanese Road on Nov. 19, 2013. Ashley, 21, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Brian Gibbons to 25 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, burglary, attempted armed robbery, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, and conspiracy. He initially faced a murder charge.
Hernandez spoke softly about her son and her feelings toward Ashley. She told of how Poirier, her oldest child of six, would help the disabled or elderly in grocery stores and “would give you his own shirt.”
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“He especially would not have murdered anyone,” Hernandez said. “We miss him every day. He’s the apple of my eye.”
“I have not gotten to the point of forgiveness,” she said in court, but she hopes Ashley reforms himself.
“I want justice for my son,” she said.
Later during the court hearing, Ashley read a letter apologizing for the shooting. He said his actions were “negative, stupid, and not smart.”
“No one was supposed to get hurt,” he said in court.
Ashley, as well as Desmond Cunningham, 22, and Kenyan McClinton, 21, were charged in the crime that started as an attempted armed robbery.
“Ashley was the key to this event,” said Willie Thompson, 16th circuit deputy solicitor.
According to the solicitor’s office, Ashley and Poirier had established a relationship prior to the shooting. Poirier had previously sold Ashley marijuana and was setting up a time to meet Ashley for another buy. Text messages were exchanged between Ashley and Poirier to arrange the meeting, Thompson said.
Poirier reportedly told Ashley not to disclose the location of his apartment to ensure the safety of his daughter. “Gotcha bro,” Ashley said in a message.
Poirier’s daughter was not at the apartment when her father was shot. Thomspon said Poirier wanted to switch the meeting location to a park “to be cautious,” but they agreed to meet at his apartment. He intended for the deal to go down safely.
Yet he was “prepared for the idea” of danger, Thompson said, with a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber pistol in a holster on his waist. Ashley, Cunningham and McClinton purportedly intended to rob Poirier of his marijuana and money, Thompson said.
McClinton, 21, pleaded guilty in August to attempted armed robbery, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, and conspiracy. He has not been sentenced, but faces 12 to 20 years in prison. Cunningham is awaiting his court appearance.
Sixteenth circuit solicitor Kevin Brackett said “something’s got to give” in these kind of situations where a botched drug deal becomes deadly. For Poirier, death was “the consequence of his mistake,” Brackett said.
Marijuana valued at $1,000 was found in Poirier’s bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, Brackett said. A digital scale with marijuana residue and $950 in cash was also found in the apartment.
Gibbons, the judge, said that the whole ordeal was “just horrible.”
Friends and family members of Ashley shouted “I love you” as the trial ended.
Ashley waved, then left the courtroom.