On Tuesday nights, 18-year-old Sabrina Defreece used to make prayer requests at Bible study that her friend would become closer to God.
She was laughing and dancing with her friend moments before he accidentally shot and killed her Dec. 8 at his Puyallup home.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Michael Schwartz sentenced 20-year-old Joshua Jeffrey Roberts to seven years, 11 months in prison Thursday. Roberts pleaded guilty last week to first-degree manslaughter and unlawful gun possession in connection with the shooting.
Defreece’s mother, Marcella Cartwright, asked Schwartz for leniency at Roberts’ sentencing.
“I would hope that Josh would understand that I forgive him,” she said.
Calling Defreece her favorite person, Cartwright spoke about the Bible studies, and said her daughter saw a lot in Roberts, and what he might become.
And the mother said it was important for Roberts to salvage his life, which Cartwright hoped to help him do, on her daughter’s behalf.
“I have to do this for him, for her,” she told the court.
Defense attorney John Crowley noted no drugs or alcohol were involved in the shooting. Roberts and Defreece had been dancing to music as they got ready for work, and Roberts pointed what he thought was an empty gun at his friend, and fired.
“There was no animosity,” Crowley said, adding that Roberts’ mother had heard them laughing before the shooting.
Roberts’ mother, Nancy Roberts, told the court her son called Defreece his “No. 1 homie,” and that Defreece was his best friend.
Joshua Roberts said she actually had been more like a sister. In asking for leniency, he told Schwartz: “I would like to believe that she’d want what’s best for me.”
The judge accepted the sentence the prosecutor and Crowley had agreed to recommend, which was the low end of the range for Roberts’crime.
“That stupid decision on your part ended the life of your friend,” Schwartz said.
As for Cartwright, he told Roberts: “You have to earn her forgiveness every day.”
That, the judge said, would be his path to redemption.