Four Michigan teens who pleaded guilty to throwing a rock off a highway overpass that killed a man were sentenced as adults in a Michigan courtroom on Tuesday.
They were ages 15 to 17 when they threw rocks onto I-75 in October 2017 in Genesee County. They called it "overpassing." A six-pound rock went through the windshield of 32-year-old Kenneth White's car as he was driving, killing him.
The teens were initially charged with charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter. They were being held in juvenile detention.
"The injuries are horrific. ... I gasped out (when I saw them)" Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said during the teens' trial in 2017.
Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah sentenced Alexander Miller, Trevor Gray, Mikadyn Payne and Mark Sekelski to adult prison, rejecting their defense attorneys’ arguments they should be sentenced as juveniles.
The judge gave them until Aug. 20 to withdraw their pleas. Their defense attorneys outside of court called the sentence emotional and political.
The mother of the victim, Teresa Simpson, applauded the sentence in court and later said her son, “gets the justice he deserves. He’s happy now. He can rest.”
The case pointed to the fifth teen, Kyle Anger, who was 18 at the time of the incident, as the one who planned the prank. He loaded up his pickup with rocks and threw the rock that killed White. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces several more years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date.
Leyton said he didn't think the boys intended to kill anyone when they threw the rocks.
"I don't think they said, 'OK, we're going to kill Kenneth White when he comes hurtling down the road," Leyton said. "But I do think they said, 'We are going to throw a rock down at the next car that goes by and try to hit it.'"
The four teens sentenced Tuesday could be out of prison sometime in 2020. However, they will be serving several months inside an adult prison.
CNN Newsource contributed to this report.