AURORA | A man who told police he accidentally shot and killed his girlfriend during a bungled 2014 robbery was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week.
Duantae Jerome Terrell pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. A judge last week sentenced him to 20 years on the murder charge and 15 on the robbery charge, with the sentences to run concurrently, said Vikki Migoya, a spokeswoman for Arapahoe County prosecutors.
Terrell told police he shot his girlfriend, 18-year-old Korin Lijah Williams, in the chest while the couple and another man, Abdullah Jhalil Ratcliff, tried to rob a man in early 2014 at the Weatherstone Apartments in Aurora.
Terrell, who was 17 at the time of the slaying, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole had he been convicted.
But at a hearing in April, Terrell accepted an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Terrell has been behind bars since his arrest the night of the shooting.
Ratcliff also accepted a plea agreement with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in May to felony conspiracy and accessory to a crime charges and is set for sentencing in July.
Ratcliff is already serving 47 years in prison for a separate 2014 slaying.
In the Williams case, court documents say Terrell told investigators he didn’t mean to shoot Williams. He said he accidentally shot her when the man they were trying to rob tried to run him over with an SUV. He and Ratcliff then fled the scene and were arrested after Ratcliff crashed his car several blocks away.
Terrell said that under the ruse of selling the man marijuana, the trio lured him to the Weatherstone near East Colfax Avenue and Chambers Road, where he and Ratcliff waited in Ratcliff’s car.
When the man pulled up in his Expedition with Williams in the passenger seat, Ratcliff approached the car on the passenger side.
Terrell said he saw the man in the Ford backhand Williams in the face so he got out with a shotgun.
He said he walked to the front of the vehicle and when he went to raise the gun, the man threw the vehicle into gear. Terrell said he barely touched the trigger, but the gun went off, shooting his girlfriend in the chest.
As the SUV sped over the grass and back to the parking lot, Terrell said he ran to his girlfriend to help, but realized he couldn’t.
Then Terrell and Ratcliff ran to Ratcliff’s car and sped away, leaving Williams at the scene.
Police later found Williams face down in the snowy parking lot and said she appeared to have been dragged a short distance. She was pronounced dead at the scene.