Chesterfield teenager sentenced to four years in juvenile detention for friend’s accidental killing
A Chesterfield County teenager avoided adult prison time Friday but was sentenced to four years in state juvenile detention for killing a friend by accidentally firing a pistol that police believe he illegally acquired.
After deliberating more than a hour after a 90-minute sentencing hearing, Chesterfield Circuit Court Judge Edward A. Robbins Jr. sentenced 17-yearold Abdul “Qadi” Crapps-Robinson to 10 years in prison with all 10 years suspended on his conviction of involuntary manslaughter, and fined him $2,500 for reckless handling of a firearm.
The judge sentenced the teen under Virginia’s youthful offender statute to be confined four years in a state juvenile correctional facility — a punishment that defense attorney Debra Corcoran urged the court to impose in the June 6, 2017, killing of Tyquon D. Whitehead, 18. CrappsRobinson will have 1½ years of supervised parole after he is released.
Prince William County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Samuel Flournoy and Matthew Lowery, who were appointed special prosecutors after the Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office recused itself because of a potential conflict of interest, had urged the judge to depart upward from discretionary state sentencing guidelines.
The guidelines called for an active prison term of one year and two months on the low end, to three years and three months at the high end.
Although Robbins declined to impose any active adult prison time, he suspended the 10-year prison term for 20 years, which means the time could be imposed if Crapps-Robinson gets into further trouble in the next two decades.
The judge also ordered the teen to make restitution in the amount of $5,000 to the state Virginia Victims Fund, which assisted the victim’s family, and an additional $1,150 to the victim’s mother.
In seeking a substantive adult punishment, prosecutors noted that just two days before the shooting, CrappsRobinson was identified by witnesses as shooting into an occupied building while accompanied by another boy.
Prosecutors also introduced photos from social media that showed CrappsRobinson — who went by the street name “Spazz” — using gang signs and holding firearms. In one photo, the teen is displaying four guns, prosecutors said.
In addition, the teen was free on bond awaiting final disposition on charges of assaulting two Chesterfield police officers when he shot Whitehead.
“He runs in very dangerous circles,” Lowery argued. “He is likely himself to get hurt or killed” once he is released.
Corcoran countered that while her client did a “stupid, foolish thing,” he is remorseful for killing his friend and is motivated to turn his life around and go to college. He earned a GED during 16 months at the Chesterfield Juvenile Detention Home, which program administrator Thomas Page said is accomplished by only 12 to 14 juveniles a year.
Ila Banberger, a longtime friend of Crapps-Robinson’s family, described the teen in testimony as being sweet, funloving and rambunctious, and she didn’t back away from that assessment when a prosecutor showed her photos of him holding guns and displaying gang signs.
Banberger drove the teen back to Chesterfield so he could turn himself in after he fled to New York on a bus, then caught a train to New Jersey, where Banberger then lived. “I picked him up and he started crying,” she testified.
The shooting occurred after several friends had gathered near the intersection of Welch Drive and Old Creek Road, not far from where Whitehead lived with his family on Darcy Lane.
In a police interview after his arrest, Crapps-Robinson said he had started to show Whitehead the gun he said he had found that day near a creek behind the subdivision where the two lived.
Crapps-Robinson said Whitehead leaned inside the driver’s door of Whitehead’s car, where Crapps-Robinson was sitting in the passenger seat. CrappsRobinson said the gun suddenly went off, striking Whitehead in his left shoulder.
When a detective explained that guns don’t just go off without pulling the trigger, the then-16-year-old replied that he must have pulled it. Crapps-Robinson insisted the gun went off accidentally.
The gun, which authorities believe was a 9 mm Ruger, was never recovered.
“He said he threw it to the side of the road as he was running away,” Chesterfield Detective K.A. Bates testified.
Ronnie Johnson and his wife, Tiesha Whitehead, testified that the loss of their only son has been devastating.
“Nothing is the same,” Whitehead said. “It ruined my family,” Johnson added. They described their son as a motivated young man who helped others, had made plans for his future, including college, and always put his family first.
Johnson testified that he and his wife had worked hard to instill values in their son and had moved out of inner-city Richmond to protect him from the negative influences of street culture.
“The reason I moved to Chesterfield was to get away from mess like this,” he said.