TOLEDO, Ohio. – Four teenagers charged for throwing a sandbag from an Ohio highway overpass that killed a Michigan man have been sentenced to a youth treatment facility program.
Police say the boys, who were then each 13 or 14, threw rocks and sandbags onto Interstate 75 near downtown Toledo in December. One sandbag smashed through a car windshield and hit a rider, 22-year-old Marquise Byrd, of Warren, Michigan. He later died.
The boys apologized to Byrd’s family in juvenile court Friday. The judge said they could end up in juvenile detention for years if they don’t complete programming of unspecified length at the youth treatment center.
"The youth treatment center is a lockdown facility in Toledo. The program runs six months, but there is no set time to release. The average youth spends eight months there," Lori Olender, juvenile division deputy chief for the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, said in an email.
Besides being ordered to the youth treatment facility, the teenagers were given four-year suspended sentences, placed on probation and ordered to perform 30 hours of community service.
Byrd’s family was upset, calling the sentence too light.
The judge says the treatment program could help change the boys’ behavior better than juvenile detention can.
Lillian Diallo, an attorney for the Byrd family, told CNN Saturday that she found the sentence to be "extremely light."
"It was light on steroids," Diallo said, adding that "the sentence was a heck of a message to send."
"You can't tell me at 13 you didn't know it was wrong to throw things on the freeway," Diallo said.
Byrd had been preparing to propose to his girlfriend and the mother of his 2-year-old son, Diallo said.
"This is tragic all the way around," Diallo said. "The fiancée didn't even know she was going to be a fiancée. To steal that from somebody is just horrific."