Desmond Ray Murder Case

Benjamin McDonald, 20, of Panama City, was sentenced Friday for the 2002 slaying of local teenager Desmond Ray.

Circuit Judge Don T. Sirmons sentenced McDonald to 30 years in prison; the maximum sentence for the charge.

McDonald, who was 17 years old at the time of the killing, was convicted of Manslaughter with a Firearm by a Bay County jury in December.

Prosecutor Larry Basford asked Judge Sirmons to sentence McDonald to the maximum to "send a message to McDonald and others who think like him that this kind of vigilante justice cannot be tolerated."

Sirmons also considered statements from the defendant, family, friends, and a pastor before imposing the sentence.

Ray, who was 14 at the time of his death, was killed outside his home on June 21, 2002.

Five men were arrested, in 2004, in connection with the death. Mikhail Forbes and Darren McClendon, charged with first degree murder, are pending trial in February. Eric Richardson pled to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Brayon Richardson pled to conspiracy to commit murder, cooperated with the prosecution of the case, and is serving a term on probation.


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