Cuyahoga County

Gang Member Who Shot Child Bystanders Wants 41-Year Sentence to Serve as an Example for Others


A Cleveland gang member whose errant drive-by gunfire left a 3-year-old girl missing nearly half of her skull and wounded her 9-year-old cousin wanted to serve as an example for teenagers who turn to gangs and violence.

Justin Jarmon, clad in an orange jail jumpsuit with his arms handcuffed behind his back, fidgeted in court Thursday as he addressed the judge who would eventually sentence the 18-year-old to four decades in prison.

"If I could rewind it, I would put down the gun and pick up a book," Jarmon told Judge Stuart Friedman, before breaking down into tears.

His attorney, Thomas Shaughnessy, said Jarmon left his family as a teenager to chase the lure of the streets depicted in music videos. But on Thursday, Shaughnessy said Jarmon now wanted to tell others to avoid the same fate.

"Don't fall victim to the streets," Shaughnessy said. "The allure of these guns, drugs, money, and this lifestyle just leads to you standing here in orange, or laid up in a funeral home."

Jarmon, who was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, faced up to 96 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder, participating in a criminal gang and other charges tied to the October 2016 shooting, as well as robbery in a separate January incident.

Friedman, who is not known for handing down lengthy prison sentences, imposed a 41-year sentence.

Jarmon was a member of the Detroit Taking Over gang when he took aim at a member of the rival Denison Boys gang outside a home at Dudley Avenue and West 73rd Street. But the bullets he fired from the back of a stolen sedan missed the gang members and instead tore into the 3-year-old girl's head as she sat on her mother's lap, and pierced the back of a 9-year-old girl who was inside the home sitting in a chair.

The toddler remains hospitalized more than 14 months later, is confined to a wheelchair and has to wear a special helmet to protect her brain from further damage, her family members said Thursday.

Jarmon was also sentenced for a January robbery in which he threw a 73-year-old man to the ground at a train stop and rifled through his pockets.

The sentencing came as Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley has vowed to crackdown on juveniles who commit gun violence, including those involved in last month's drive-by shooting that left dead 12-year-old Abdel Bashiti, who was hit by a stray bullet while helping out at his father's beauty supply shop on Cleveland's East Side.

O'Malley, who attended Thursday's sentencing, said afterwards that he hoped Jarmon would continue to send his message from behind bars that a life of crime and violence is not the answer.

"And it's my hope that others in this community who are engaged in that lifestyle heed that message, and respect the fact that we all just want to live in peace and safety," O'Malley said.

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