RALEIGH — The two brothers accused in a series of burglaries and home invasions that left one homeowner paralyzed and his wife a sexual assault victim used different legal strategies that resulted in vastly different sentences.
Shabar Marshall – 10 years younger than his brother and co-conspirator Jahaad Marshall – already was serving an eight- to 12-year sentence for the 2012 burglary of another Wake County home when he stood before Superior Court Judge Henry Hight for a second sentencing Monday morning.
The 17-year-old Marshall pleaded guilty to 15 charges on March 5 related to a burglary, sexual assault and shooting in the historic Oakwood neighborhood on Jan. 7, 2013, and another home invasion on Sherry Drive in northeastern Raleigh on Dec. 30, 2012.
On Monday, Hight sentenced the teen to an additional 26-1/2 years in prison for the Oakwood crime. The judge took into account the severity of the attempted first-degree murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon and other crimes that Marshall acknowledged committing during a spree in late 2012 and early 2013.
But Hight also offered the teenager a possibility of getting out of prison in middle age after hearing from a mitigation sentencing specialist and from Marshall himself.
Marshall’s brother, Jahaad Marshall, 27, was convicted on Friday of 22 charges related to the same series of violent home invasions and robberies. The older Marshall, who testified in his defense against the advice of his lawyer, tried to pin the crimes on a shadowy character known only by the initials B.J., which happened to match the first two letters of the nickname Jahaad Marshall went by – BlackJack.
But the jury did not accept the older Marshall’s defense and convicted him on all counts, leading to a sentence of at least 263 years, a lifetime of incarceration.
Shabar Marshall had already entered guilty pleas, stymieing his older brother’s defense strategy.
On Monday, Shabar Marshall told the judge he wanted to take ownership of the wrongs he had committed.
“I really want to apologize to the victims, and I regret what I did every day,” Shabar Marshall said. “I don’t expect to try to get off or try to get away with something. I did something wrong, and I understand I get punished for it.”
Shabar Marshall has led a hardscrabble life, his defense attorney, George Kelly, told the judge.
When he was only 2 years old, his father shot and wounded his mother and fled with the small boy in tow.
While his father was in prison, according to mitigation sentencing specialist Josie Van Dyke, Marshall was moved from home to home in the South Carolina foster care system. He attempted to take his own life in 2007, according to Van Dyke, and was hospitalized then.
At the time of the crimes, Shabar Marshall had been living with Jahaad Marshall in a Raleigh hotel room. The younger Marshall had a fight with his father and moved out, but his father had tried to find him, according to testimony.
Shabar Marshall told the sentencing specialist that he decided to plead guilty to most of the charges against him because he did not want to put his victims through any more difficult times.
“He said to me: ‘It’s really not about me at this point. These victims are never going to get over what I’ve done. They’re going to live with this every day for the rest of their lives,’ ” Van Dyke told the judge. “I’ve never heard that from a defendant that young.”
When asked why he had been involved in the robberies, Shabar Marshall said he went along with his older brother because Jahaad Marshall had invited him. His brother had a girlfriend at the time who was pregnant. The elder Marshall had a criminal record and was not keen on the assignments he was getting from Snoopy’s Hot Dogs restaurant, especially after the manager asked him to dress up in the hot dog suit and hawk their fare with a sidewalk sign.
His brother was going through difficult financial times, and with 17 siblings, some of them half-siblings, there was no family safety net. So in late 2012 and early 2013, the two began breaking into homes and stealing electronics and other items.
But the burglaries became increasingly violent, a trend that Hight pointed out last week as troubling.
During the home invasion on Sherry Drive on Dec. 30, 2012, the brothers left a couple in their 60s handcuffed to their bed before fleeing with a .25-caliber pistol.
That gun was used at the Oakwood home invasion that left a man wounded and paralyzed from the waist down and his wife suffering from a sexual assault, according to Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger, the prosecutor on the cases.
“The crimes he committed were really horrible – and really a man’s crime, not a child’s crime,” Zellinger said.
But Zellinger and Kelly said the judge wanted to give Shabar Marshall an opportunity to walk out of prison as an older man.
“He’s very remorseful for what he’s done,” Kelly said.
Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1