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Teen gets life sentence in shooting of high school freshman

Updated Monday, Oct. 26, 2009 | 1:27 p.m.

Christopher Privett

Christopher Privett

Three short words forever changed Joshua Privett’s life.

“Christopher is dead,” his father told him over the phone. Joshua’s youngest brother, who was 15 years old, had been shot in the chest while walking home from Palo Verde High School with his friends.

Christopher Privett was an honors student. He was an athlete. His future was nothing but bright, Joshua Privett said Monday.

“When my dad called me, I didn’t understand why Christopher was killed. Today, I still don’t understand why he was killed,” Joshua Privett said during a sentencing hearing for the 17-year-old boy who shot and killed his brother.

District Court Judge Stefany Miley today sentenced Gerald Davison to life in prison. Authorities say Davison fired a semi-automatic pistol from the backseat of a car into a group of four boys on Feb. 15, 2008.

Under a plea agreement, the earliest Davison could be released from prison is 28 years.

According to police reports, a gray Pontiac driven by Ezekiel Williams passed by Christopher and three of his friends who were walking home along Alta Drive. Witnesses told police that harsh words and gang signs were exchanged between members of the two groups.

Christopher has been described as an innocent bystander.

Williams, 20, was sentenced in August to a minimum of eight years on one count of voluntary manslaughter with use of a deadly weapon and one count of accessory to murder for his role in the shooting.

One of the bullets Davison fired struck Christopher in the chest. Another bullet passed through the backpack of one of the other boys, but the boy wasn't injured. Christopher died at Summerlin Hospital.

"I apologize for taking your son's life away. Sorry ain't gonna cut it, but that's all I can tell you," Davison told the Privett family Monday during the hearing.

“With a single, callous act, Gerald Davison has hurt more people in a moment than most people do in a lifetime,” Joshua Privett said.

Davison pleaded guilty in July to first-degree murder with a deadly weapon and attempted murder.

Under the agreement, Davison was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life for murder, and an additional four to 10 years with a weapons enhancement; additionally, Davison will serve another four to 10 years for a count of attempted murder.

Christopher’s parents spoke to Davison from the stand. Barbara Privett told Davison he shattered her life the day he shot her son.

“I keep hoping that some day Chris will walk in the door and say, ‘hi mom!’ or that I’ll open his bedroom door and see him laying on the bed. I know that’s not going to happen,” she said. “Instead, I have an urn of ashes beside my bed. That’s all I have left of Chris.”

“The feeling of loss overwhelms me some days,” said Christopher’s father, Michael Privett. “It’s with me always.”

He told Davison that his family is still struggling with the aftermath of a crime he described as “selfish” and “senseless.”

Over the summer, he took his son’s ashes with him as he retraced times he spent with Christopher. He sprinkled ashes in places they had been together, and left others at points he thought Christopher would have enjoyed.

All he hopes for, he said, is for something good to grow out of Christopher’s death.

He said his pain has manifested itself in a memorial: There’s a place in the desert near his house where he walks when he’s grieving. When he thinks about Christopher, he stacks rocks on the cairn he’s been building since his son’s death.

“I just wish that perhaps with sentencing there would be a new sense of trying to do something to make things better,” he said.

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