DECATUR — A heartbroken Decatur mother poured out her pain Tuesday at the sentencing hearing for the man who accidentally shot her 12-year-old son to death.
Speaking in Macon County Circuit Court just before Avante M. Flesch, 20, was sent to prison for seven years for the involuntary manslaughter of Marqueius N. Gray, Angela Koenig told Judge Thomas Griffith she had counted every hour since her child was taken from her.
“It has been 6,926 hours since I last seen my son alive,” she said, weeping as she recalled his death Nov. 12 in the living room of a house in the 1100 block of North Main Street.
“The last words he spoke to me were ‘Mom, Vante (Flesch) shot me. I can’t feel my body.’ Every single day I relive seeing my baby like that; not a second of the day goes by without my heart hurting. Sometimes the pain is so unbearable I feel like I am suffocating.”
The court was told Flesch was a friend of the family who treated Marqueius like a little brother. Addressing Flesch, Koenig told him: “On 11-12-18 I lost two sons; I don’t hate you, I hate what our lives have become.”
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In addition to the seven-year sentence for pleading guilty to the manslaughter charge, Flesch also admitted being a felon in possession of a weapon and was sentenced to another six years, but Griffith ordered the terms to run concurrently. Flesch had pleaded guilty to both counts at a hearing June 6.
Calling for a 10-year sentence, Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott said Flesch had been playing with a gun he found while visiting the North Main Street address and his careless conduct had cost a child his life. Scott said a stiffer sentence would “give the victim’s family some justice and serve as a deterrent” to others tempted to behave recklessly.
Flesch spoke to the court to apologize for what he had done and said he had been trying to unload the .380 caliber gun when it went off. “It all happened so quick ... I didn’t believe it was happening,” he recalled.
Lisa Creason, a woman who had raised Flesch since he was 13, told the court he was redeemable and planned to devote his life to warning others of the dangers of gun violence. Creason said no matter what sentence he receives in court, he will be serving another one inside his conscience “for the rest of his life.”
Defense attorney Monica Hawkins acknowledged the scale of this “amazingly heartbreaking tragedy” but said Flesch had acted with no evil in his heart. “Your honor, there was no malice in this case,” she said.
Griffith described it as a case where tragedy could so easily have been averted and yet now everyone faced a life sentence of suffering. “The victim’s family is going to suffer for the balance of their lives,” the judge added. “And the defendant is going to suffer for the balance of his life, as he knows what he did.”
Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid