A 19-year-old Selbyville resident, Devon Gordon, was sentenced last week to 18 years in prison, after he pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree attempted murder and using a firearm to commit a felony.
Gordon had been arrested on Oct. 1, 2013, a suspect in the shooting of his neighbor Lauren Banks, 25, in the head on the morning of Gordon’s 18th birthday.
Banks’ father, Robert Banks, spoke at the Oct. 10 sentencing, telling Delaware Superior Court Judge Jane Brady that he and his family have no animosity or hate for Gordon.
“We only have compassion,” he said. “[Lauren] has forgiven him from Day 1.”
Due to the head wound Banks sustained, she suffers from vision loss in one eye and hearing loss, as well as cognitive issues.
“She’s going to have problems for the rest of her life,” said Deputy Attorney General Casey Ewart. “You can’t get shot between the eyes and not have long-term damage.”
Gordon’s sister, Corynne Rutz, also spoke at the sentencing, apologizing for the pain caused by her brother’s actions.
“Devon is such a wonderful brother. He has a good heart,” she said. “He needs to accept the consequences of his actions. We love him very, very much.”
She added that Gordon’s reintegration into society, following his serving his sentence, will not be a problem, given the love and support he has from his family and friends.
Rob Robinson, Gordon’s attorney, stated that he has seen his client grow and mature over the last year, and that Gordon shows “incredible remorse and concern for his friend.”
“From the beginning, he’s taken responsibility,” said Robinson, asserting that Gordon never would have shot Banks had he not been on hallucinogenic drugs.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” said Gordon. “I did not mean to do what I did that night… I’ve learned from my mistake.”
Ewart said that, although Gordon does seem to have a good perspective, given the terrible circumstances, the incident never would have happened had he not illegally purchased a gun, illegally purchased ammunition online, and purchased and taken three times the amount of illegal hallucinogens than what he was used to.
“I don’t envy the Court,” said Ewart of Brady’s decision. “Everything about this case is tragic.”
Brady said she could only recall one other case in her career where a victim and their family where so forgiving.
“Sometimes people think sentencing is the end of the case,” said Brady. “Long beyond your lifetime, what you have done will affect two families. Today is not an ending. It’s part of a lifelong process.”
Brady said that Gordon should use his time in prison to figure out what drove him to be self-destructive.
“Decide what kind of man you want to be, lay out a plan, and you’re going to have to follow it. It’s not going to be easy,” said Brady. “Lauren… she has a life sentence, too.”
She added that, although the Bankses’ “forgiveness says they have open hearts… it doesn’t mean they don’t have bad nights, challenging times.”
Along with his 18-year sentence, Gordon is to continue to have no contact with the Banks family. Once released, he must perform between five and 35 hours of community service per week until he is fully employed. He will also have to stay drug-free.
“I’ve done my best to act in accordance with the wishes of both sides of these events,” said Brady.