STEUBENVILLE - Kordel Moncreace pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of aggravated murder.
Moncreace, 17, was sentenced by Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. to life in prison without the eligibility of parole for 33 years.
The incident took place Jan. 30 at the Heritage Place Apartments on Market Street, where police responded to a report of shots fired. Police said Ryan Toson, 21, and Otavius Wilson, 19, both of Steubenville, were taken to Trinity Medical Center West with multiple gunshot wounds, where they were both pronounced dead. A large caliber handgun was used in the shooting.
Moncreace, who was bound over from juvenile court, was scheduled to stand trial beginning Monday on two counts of aggravated murder, both with firearm specifications, and tampering with evidence. However, after pleading to the charges Wednesday, Moncreace told the families of both victims he was sorry for what happened.
Members of the victims' families were also on hand Wednesday, including Shekira Brandon, Wilson's sister.
"When he died, I died. By getting justice, some part of him came back," she said.
Kelly Robertson, Toson's mother, wrote a statement which was read to the court by Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin.
"Almost one year has passed since I received the call that my son had been shot. My son, 21 years old and barely beginning to live his life. A life that was stolen from him well before it was due to expire," the note read. "You will have to live for the rest of your life with the memory of what you did that night, but, I pray that one day, you are able to find the Lord and let him fill you with the love and forgiveness that you so desperately long for. I want you to know that it is only because of his spirit living inside me that I am even able to say the most difficult words that I will ever say. I forgive you."
Prior to sentencing, Bruzzese commended the families for offering their words.
"Both families are a lot more understanding than I would have been," he said.
Hanlin said the plea and sentencing was justice for Toson and Wilson.
"Kordel Moncreace will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing two young men. I commend the families of both victims for their cooperation with the prosecutor's office in reaching a resolution of this case," she said.
A dozen police officers, sheriff's deputies and probation officers surrounded the courtroom during the hearing to maintain order. There were no reported problems.