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Boy 15, Receives 70 Years Sentence for Attempted Murder in Jacksonville, Florida

Shimeek Daquiel Gridine

By Clara McLaughlin

Jacksonville, FL. - Shimeek Daquiel Gridine is now 15 years of age.  On Friday, May 15, 2009, he walked into the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office with his grandparents to give himself up for shooting Dana Battles behind a restaurant on Main Street.  Battles received a non-life threatening injury and was released from the hospital on the day of the shooting and attempted robbery.

  Shimeek, who was 14 at the time, and a 12-year-old friend, said they had found a small shot gun nearby, lying underneath a car after leaving the barber shop.  They saw Mr. Battles, according to Battles’ brother, taking out the garbage at the restaurant they thought was owned by him and said, “Give it up.”  Both boys are of small statue.  Mr. Battles is not.  So, according to Battles, Shimeek, standing between 6 and 10 feet away from the victim, shot him and quickly ran away.  However, we were told last year that the boys attempted to struggle with Battles and the gun went off.  When Shimeek turned himself in, he was charged with first degree attempted murder, attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery.  Because of the State Attorney’s new policy which is based on intent, at his first hearing before Juvenile Judge Linda McCallum, Shimeek was ordered held without bond until his arraignment.  At the arraignment, he was charged as an adult, again, because of his intent.  The 12-year-old was charged as a juvenile even though Shimeek claims the robbery was the 12 year old's idea.

  Shimeek’s family said he was basically a good boy who had suffered much during the past year.  He lost two family members about two weeks before his situation with Battles.   His mother lost her job and they moved to Jacksonville to live with his grandparents. According to the family, he had one previous incident with the law which was a petty theft charge.  His family said he had ‘good’ grades in school and they were willing to work with him to get him through his trying times.  From May 28, 2009 to the hearing on April 30, 2010, Shimeek’s family had given their all in trying to get him charged as a juvenile rather than as an adult.  They were comfortable that as a juvenile, he would receive the opportunity to get counseling, continue his education and receive job training after serving a reasonable amount of time for his mistake.  In fact, his attorney said that even other officers of the system felt that he would get a much lesser sentence with a maximum of 25 years since he pleaded guilty to armed robbery.  It was clear that he regretted his mistake, said his grandfather. 

  With an understanding and feeling that the judge would give Shimeek an opportunity to get his life on the right track, the youngster  went before Judge A.C. Soud, formerly of Family Court, without a jury.

  We were told by the family that the judge listened to the information provided as he witnessed that Shimeek had family members from as far away as New York and South Carolina there to support him.  The family members are very well spoken.

   After hearing the information from family, and seeing the support,  Judge Soud said, according to family, “Because you were known to be a good kid, because you have good grades and a good family that loves you, you knew better.  Therefore, for the first charge of Premeditated Attempted Murder, I sentence you to 70 years in prison.  On the second charge of Armed Robbery, I sentence you to 25 years. You will serve the sentences together.  The third charge of Aggravated Battery is being dropped.”  The judge then deducted the 300 plus days he had already served, leaving him around 69 years to finish his sentence.  The court was appalled.

  State Attorney Angela Corey said their policy is to focus on the perpetrator’s plan, not the outcome of the event.  When you pull a trigger that is pointed at someone’s head, you intend to kill.  It was fortunate for Mr. Battle that he did not die.  This crime affected two families.  She said.  She added that it is her wish that shooters would think of their love ones before shooting and perhaps carry a picture of the ones they love in their pockets to look at before pulling a trigger.

  Isaiah Rumlin, president of the Jacksonville NAACP said that they do not condone wrong doing but this is a very harsh sentence for a 15 year old and the NAACP will seek to have changes made.  He said if the judges are trying to send a message to our youth, using this young man as an example, is not the way.  Gridine’s attorney is seeking an appeal.