WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Trumbull County judge sentenced a teenage defendant to 42 to 47 and a half years to life in prison for the fatal shooting of a Farrell man.
A jury found Gavin Roberts, 18, guilty of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery charges earlier this month. Roberts was also found guilty of using a firearm during that crime.
Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice handed down the sentence on Thursday afternoon. She noted that a life-without-parole sentence was not allowed under state law, as Roberts was a juvenile at the time of the crime.
Roberts was just 17, but he was tried as an adult.
The case involves the Nov. 19, 2022, shooting death of 37-year-old Brice Hilton, of Farrell. The crime occurred at Colonial Street and South Feederle Drive in Warren during what police described as the arranged sale of a cell phone.
“A lot of moments now feel hollow because he’s not there,” said Hilton’s son, Ja’Mir Hilton.
“There is no cure for a sociopath, only more victims. Gavin Roberts has no remorse then or now, no conscience. He is cruel, ruthless, and dangerous,” said Hilton’s girlfriend, Blair Legg.
Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker criticized the law, saying Roberts should have a longer prison sentence.
“This is a classic type of case of why Senate bill 256 should be reversed by the legislature and they should take it off the books because this is a classic case of someone who deserves more than getting a parole hearing in 25 years,” he said.
Even though Hilton’s family had hoped Roberts would be sentenced to life without parole, his son said justice was served.
“I’m glad that man is behind bars and that I don’t have to worry about him harming anyone,” he said.