ALBANY–Bridgette Watkins became infuriated at the hearing of the two men charged with the death of her son, 19-year-old D’Arius Keys, after hearing they would receive no jail time.
Prosecutors say Keys was shot outside a South Albany Cedar apartment complex back in 2016. DeAntre Butler was originally charged with Keys’ death, officials citing an argument between the two earlier in the week, and the two being in the same car the night of Keys’ death. Brandon Hallman was also charged with tampering with evidence.
But after further investigation, prosecutors deemed Keys’ death as accidental, leaving Watkins in a state of shock.
“The duty of the district attorney and the district attorney’s office is to seek justice and find the truth of the situation. And our best finding here was that this was an accident,” said District Attorney for the Dougherty Judicial Circuit Gregory W. Edwards.
At the hearing last week, Butler pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten years of probation. Hallman pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and was sentenced to six years probation.
Though Watkins finds it hard to believe that the death of her son was accidental, she is doing her best to make peace with it.
“I was broken. I was hurt because it took them almost three years to say accident,” said Watkins. “No, I’m not okay with how they handled it. The things that were said. The things that were done. But I’m okay with moving forward.”
Watkins is using her son’s death as an opportunity to speak out against gun violence and to carry on her son’s legacy. She has planned several events this year to honor him.
“I’m going to forever fight for D’Arius because I’m going to forever be his voice,” said Watkins. “Like I said, I’m going to always speak out.”