Andrew Dys

Chester man gets 45-year sentence for 2014 killing

The 19-year-old Chester man who in 2014 killed another teen over trash talking was sentenced to 45 years in prison Monday by Circuit Court Judge Brian Gibbons.

Robert Isaiah Graham’s lawyer plans to appeal the sentence as overly harsh.

Graham, 17 at the time of the shooting, faced a minimum of 30 years in prison but could have received up to life without parole.

Graham pleaded guilty to murder last year in the death of Shyheim Kennedy, 16, in a crime where Kennedy was shot while walking on a street just a block from the Chester Police Department.

Graham’s lawyer, 6th Circuit Chief Public Defender Mike Lifsey, had argued that while the crime was horrible, a 30-year sentence was sufficient. Lifsey presented court exhibits that showed other homicides over the past decade in Chester that ended with guilty pleas but not life sentences like prosecutors were seeking against Graham.

Just last year, a teen the same age who plotted the murder of his grandmother received 30 years for that killing. The two co-conspirators in that crime, including the shooter, also received 30 years.

But Graham, a criminal since childhood, according to authorities, was sentenced to 45 years.

“We’re disapppointed and intend to appeal,” Lifsey said after court.

Prosecutors who sought life in prison for Graham, could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Testimony Monday showed Graham’s lengthy criminal record as both an adult and juvenile. Graham is a member of the Roundtree Circle gang, a Chester group police and prosecutors say is responsible for the 2014 killing of Chester City Councilman Odell Williams.

A convicted felon for burglary charges and already considered a probation absconder at the time of the incident, Graham admitted to police that he was going back to prison anyway and confessed to shooting Kennedy after alleged words between rival groups. But because state law requires special treatment of defendants under age 18 facing up to life in prison, medical experts for both prosecutors and Graham did psychological testing on Graham.

Kennedy, a Chester native, had been sent to live with family out of state before the shooting to avoid the ongoing crime and violence in Chester but was home in June 2014 visiting family when he was killed.

Graham and Kennedy had a confrontation on Pinckney Street near downtown Chester when Graham, claiming that a rival group had disrespected him and others, shot Kennedy.

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065