Three Pleasantville men were sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison each in a deadly 2016 shootout on the Atlantic City Expressway.
Wilbert Demosthenes, Anthony Hicks and Devan Leggette “essentially turned the expressway into the Wild West,” Assistant Prosecutor Erika Halayko told the judge.
Hicks’ passenger and friend, Rosemond Octavius, was killed in the shootout that began when two warring factions bumped into one another at the Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse on Aug. 29, 2016.
Yahshaun Stukes-Williams was in one courtroom, while Octavius appeared before Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury.
On Thursday, Demosthenes, Hicks and Leggette appeared before DeLury for sentencing on attempted murder and weapon charges, after all three pled guilty July 2.
Demosthenes was sentenced to 17 years in prison, Hicks to 16 years and Leggette to 13 years. All three must serve 85 percent before they are eligible for parole under the No Early Release Act.
“I want to apologize to the victim, the community, the court, my family,” Leggette said, adding that he wants to put this situation behind him and move forward the right way.
“I want to be part of the solution and not the problem,” he said.
“I think there’s hope for young men like Devan Leggette,” attorney Michael Schreiber said outside the courtroom.
With more than two years served, Leggette has to serve less than nine more years before he is eligible for parole.
“I was a victim too,” Demosthenes, who was wounded in the shootout, told the judge.
He said he took the plea deal because “I feel like I’ve got no other option.”
Attorney Tamika McKoy said he his affiliation with a gang was assumed because he is Haitian.
“I take responsibility that I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Demosthenes must serve about 13 more years in prison, with nearly two years already served in the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
Hicks was not at the courthouse the day of the shootout, but got a call from Octavius that he needed a ride, Hicks’ sister told the judge.
She tearfully spoke on her brother’s behalf because he opted not to speak for himself, she said.
“He was home making noodles with his son,” she said. “He was just giving a friend a ride.”
She noted that Octavius was fatally shot inside the car with Hicks, who could just have easily been killed.
No one was charged in the killing since Octavius’ group was considered the aggressors in the shootout, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Erik Bergman explained in court.
Hicks was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
With nearly three years already served, he must spend about 10½ years in prison before he is eligible for parole.