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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 3, 2015 12:37am-1:08am EST

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coming home again ♪ this is "nightline." tonight, four teenagers, one decision. >> got out of school that day. >> a costly mistake that changed their lives forever. the consequences shocking. the community, shaken. >> our children. >> so, what did happen? and why are these teens in prison? >> "nightline" will return in a moment.
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good evening. thanks for joining us. teenagers don't always make the smartest choices. but hopefully they can weather the consequences. but for these friends, one bad decision turns deadly. and in one instance their lives and one town changed forever. >> i heard a bang and another bang, and a couple more bangs afterwards. >> reporter: this story begins on an afternoon much like any other.
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and ends with a twist no one saw coming. five young friends make an impulsive decision. one is dead and the others' lives, shattered. >> we got out of school coming up with -- >> reporter: blake is just 16 years old, and a sophomore in high school. >> he was the type of boy, if someone had a flat tire he was getting out and helping. >> reporter: and 17-year-old levi sparks. they grew up together. they're hanging out with some other friends, including denzel johnson. >> we're hanging out together. >> reporter: someone suggests to find a house to rob. they could use some extra cash.
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what were you looking for? >> an empty house? >> reporter: why? >> just try to get quick money. not to even confront anyone. >> reporter: were you armed? >> no. >> reporter: they settle on a house just across the street. you're convinced nobody was inside. >> we had knocked before. not just rung the doorbell. knocked. >> reporter: levi stays behind on the porch. you didn't say, this was a bad idea? >> i could have but no i didn't. >> reporter: he was a lookout. so when you got to the house, who kicked down the door? >> denzel. >> there was a boom and my whole house shook. >> reporter: this was the testimony of rodney scott, the
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homeowner. he was upstairs, taking a nap. >> if someone gun breaking into my house, i better get a gun. >> reporter: what did you hear? >> the first thing i heard was gunshots. >> fear comes over you, and you don't know if you're going to get hurt or killed. that's when i decided to fire my gun and try to trap them. >> turn around run away from the gun. >> reporter: you were hiding? >> i was shot as i was entering the closet. >> reporter: did you know you were shot? >> i touched my leg and it came up warm. >> reporter: then denzel is slumped next to him, shot in the chest, bleeding heavily. he died in your arms? >> he died in between, we're right there next to him.
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and just saying i'm sorry over and over again. >> reporter: to whom were you sorry? >> just for it all. >> reporter: what started out as a teenage impulse left one of them dead. that's when his friends called him for help. >> the guy was holding the gun at me. i said i'm sorry and took off. >> reporter: the terrifying news that there has been a shooting on the street ricochets through the town. and this mother fears the worst. >> i didn't know, one passed away i didn't know if mine was alive or not. >> reporter: local police say
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that blake has already been treated and released. did you get to see him? she finds that her son is in police custody. as for levi he was being questioned. >> i took him in and took him home. >> reporter: if she or anyone thought it was just a tragic mishap they were in for a rude shock. >> they called me in and said it was murder. >> reporter: felony murder. when someone is killed in this manner, everyone involved could be held responsible. even if they never held a gun. >> explaining to the kids they were being charged for murder. >> i didn't understand what we
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were about to go through. >> we didn't know what happened. my thought was still, okay it will be cleared up. >> reporter: but there was no misunderstanding charged as adults. all charged for the death of their friend. even though there was no intent to kill, with the guy that was just the lookout. did you think you could ever get killed? >> no no one answered the door what could the harm be done? >> these are our kids they made a huge mistake, but never hurt anyone. >> reporter: felony murder is controversial. it's not even on the books in every state. >> i don't think it's reasonable to expect that they could encounter a homeowner with the gun, and he killed one of their
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colleagues. >> you invade a home. is it forseeable that someone will be hurt? the answer is yes. is it foreseeable that the homeowner is going to shoot you? the answer is yes. >> reporter: in this case, the homeowner was never charged with wrong doing. but he never lived in that home again. one of the four jose was afraid of a stiffer sentence. he takes a plea bargain. the others' fate is in the hands of a injury. >> i'm still torn over it. have a hard time talking about it really. >> reporter: when we come back their future on the line. and the verdict is in. >> i think it's insane and i think it's unjust and needs to be remedied. ite man. but here's the thing:
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back now with the story of a group of friends paying a high price for an ordinary gone fatally wrong. now, they're behind bars with their loved ones trying to get them out. was it worth it? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: they knew they'd made a costly mistake, but no one could imagine how high the price. their friend is dead. and they are on trial for felony
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murder. the trial is starting. what is your thought on how fair the charges are? >> we didn't commit murder so why should we be tried for it? >> reporter: after just five days of deliberation, they're found guilty. >> that is often the only alternative. and here, you have a dead body. >> reporter: it was a decision this juror did not make lightly. >> age should have been a consideration. that's the hard part to swallow. >> reporter: at the sentenceing, the loved ones react in horror
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at the verdict. when it came down what was your reaction? >> i was crushed. for the rest of my life i would be labeled a murderer. >> i think it's insane, overkill, unjust and needs to be remedied. >> reporter: the moms are fighting for that remedy. they're hoping an appeal would be granted. meanwhile, on the inside blake and levi are waiting. this is your world, basically? >> yeah. >> reporter: he keeps a small collection of photos. >> this is my girlfriend. >> reporter: to keep him focused on freedom, a calendar. with dates crossed out. 2040, the earliest he could get
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out with good behavior. unless the appeals can get him out earlier. >> they're not in here for committing a traffic violation. most are in here for committing serious crimes. >> reporter: blake is about to be moved over to the adult side of the prison. >> i'm going to make a cake. and honey buns and stuff, make a layered cake. >> reporter: but the dangers here are real and present. there's an incident on the adult side. >> weapons team assemble. >> i hate hearing that. >> reporter: what is this? >> somebody is hurt. that tone gives you chills. it could be you any day. >> reporter: blake's high school girlfriend refuses to walk away. and had enough hope in their future to say yes to a very
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important question. >> there was an engagement ring from blake. which was awesome. i love him and i'm not going to leave him. >> reporter: blake's legal team is hoping for a decision too. they think it could go all the way to the u.s. supreme court. they shouldn't have been committing burglary in the first place. >> yes. they were guilty of a burglary and should have been punished accordingly. >> serious things happened and my friend is dead and his mom lost a son. >> reporter: where did it all go wrong? >> i couldn't -- you know, i
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guess, just being a follower and not a leader, i think. >> reporter: peer pressure was definitely at play here. a very teenage vulnerability. >> the brain continues to develop throughout the teenage years. the exercise of reasoning, weighing risks. >> reporter: but not everybody believes that's an acceptable excuse. >> teens, when they're in a group. they tend to do things they may not do on their own. would you feel menaced if you woke up from a sound sleep and found five men? i think the answer is yes. >> reporter: however, the highest court in the land has already ruled that juveniles shouldn't face the death penalty or life on parole. but even prosecutors like nancy
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grace say there were other options. >> this could have easily been pled down to voluntary manslaughter. they would have done hard jail time seven to ten years, and still had a life to live. >> reporter: blake he's told to pack up his things after his 18th birthday. he's moving to the adult side. >> he came and told me pack your stuff up. >> they act like they're not scared superman but underlying, you can tell they're a little intimidated. >> i'm not afraid just anxious. just the environment, i can be put into a crazy place. but i'll be all right. >> reporter: the walk is short
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to the adult side but it's miles away from the life he's known. his best friend levi that stayed back on the porch that day, already on the adult side. what's the hardest part about being locked up? >> it's nothing like being on the outside. this is what we see every day. >> reporter: it's depressing. >> horrible. >> reporter: show me your ink. >> the hourglass, it's broken. it's a waste of time. >> reporter: and that's your sentence, 50 years. >> his cell mate is doing 65 years. and 50 years older than he.
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>> reporter: now freedom could be years away unless their mothers' fight is successful. today, they're making the drive to see their sons. excitement and emotions bubble up as they arrive. smiling as they arrive through a gauntlet of barbed wire. >> hi, honey. hello. >> i love you. >> reporter: the rules dictate that you can only hug at the beginning and end of each visit. and the moms try to make even the slightest contact with their sons. and it's a reunion for blake and levi who haven't seen each other for months. but before they know it they
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have to return to the world behind locked doors. >> bye-bye. >> reporter: they can't undo what happened on that porch that fateful day, the mothers continue to be mothers. and we have an update, for the moms, it's a glimmer of hope. the indiana supreme court has agreed to consider their sons' case for a potential appeal. we'll be right back. curling up in bed with a favorite book is nice. but i think women would rather curl up with their favorite man. but here's the thing: about half of men over 40 have some degree of erectile dysfunction. well, viagra helps guys with ed get and keep an erection. and remember, you only take it when you need it. ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take viagra if you take nitrates for chest pain; it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure.
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side effects include headache, flushing, upset stomach and abnormal vision. to avoid long-term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. stop taking viagra and call your doctor right away if you experience a sudden decrease or loss in vision or hearing. ask your doctor about viagra.
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coming up on monday, we're one-on-one with bradley cooper, getting oscar buzz on "american sniper." byron pitts talking to him about the man he portrays on the screen, chris kyle. considered the most lethal sniper in american history. >> the thing that haunts me are all the guys i couldn't save. >> what do you want the audience to think of him? >> it doesn't matter what i want. we did our job. tried to tell the truth, create a human character. i want them to believe this guy was a real guy. you don't see it's a film so much as get caught up in the
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story. >> you can catch the full interview monday here on "nightline." as always we're online at good night, america. thanks for watching. [cheers and applause] >> yeah! [laughs] ahh! ah! thank you, and welcome to millionaire. i'm your host, terry crews but don't worry. i'm still on brooklyn nine-nine as well. [cheers and applause] today's returning contestant flew 5,200 miles to audition
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for millionaire and 2,000 miles to be here today. so let's hope she keeps traveling up that money tree. welcome back from albuquerque, new mexico lee ann roberts. [cheers and applause] thank you for being here. >> oh, i'm so glad to be here. >> oh, my goodness. you are doing amazing. >> thank you. >> $48,500 in your bank. >> wow. >> listen, what will you do when you win the million? >> well, one thing i'd love to do--i love to travel, and i would love to do some voluntourism, which is basically going somewhere and helping some people in need, and that would just be so fun. >> well, look. you've raised kids and you've given your money to 'em, i'm sure and now, you're talking about giving your money away somewhere else. what will you do for you? >> well, one thing i would love to do-- we live in the high desert. our backyard is basically just sand. and i would love to do some landscaping out there and put in some trees and just make it look nice. >> you gonna o


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