After pleading guilty to the attempted murder of 2004 College graduate Kevin Neary, Christopher Easter was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison following a lengthy court appearance Wednesday.
Easter had faced a minimum 20-year sentence for the charges following his guilty plea Tuesday.
Neary and his family, who had been gearing up for a trial this week, were surprised with the admission, given that Easter had previously indicated he would take his chances in court in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.
“We weren’t expecting it to happen, since it’s been 10 months and [Easter] finally decided to do it now,” said Chris Neary, one of Kevin’s brothers.
Chris added that the family was “relieved” with the sentence, which was handed down by Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Minehart.
“Kevin’s happy that he’ll be off the streets for a long time and that the judge took into consideration all the facts of the case and rendered a fair sentence,” Chris Neary said. “We’re thankful that we didn’t have to go through a trial and could get through this pretty quickly.”
On Nov. 15, 2011, Kevin was in the Northern Liberties area of Philadelphia when Easter, 21, shot him in the neck in an attempted robbery.
Earlier that night, he had attended a Penn basketball game at the Palestra with his brother, JP.
The bullet that pierced Kevin’s neck left him unable to breathe on his own. Though he has made significant strides in his recovery since then — he’s currently off a ventilator for up to 19 hours a day — he still has a long way to go.
Before Wednesday’s sentence was delivered, Kevin and about 10 other friends and family members delivered impact statements to Minehart. Kevin spoke for around 30 minutes about what his life is like today.
According to Chris Neary, Easter — who also goes by Christopher Easton — offered a brief apology before Minehart announced the sentence.
“Kids don’t start out to be evil but they end up evil because of adults,” Minehart said Wednesday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Clearly Mr. Easton did not have a supportive family but this is a particularly gruesome shooting.”
Following the sentencing, Easter was immediately taken off to prison.
“It was a lot for Kevin to sit through, but he seems to be in good spirits,” Chris Neary said. “We’re just thankful that we can now move on.”
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