A Fairfax County teenager who said he was trying to defend a pregnant woman when he fatally slammed the woman's drunken boyfriend with a two-foot-long steel pipe was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison.
Troy Wooten, 17, who was convicted in April of second-degree murder in the death of Jason Baughman, 21, showed little emotion as Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Arthur B. Vieregg sentenced him.
The judge said he believed the Mount Vernon youth when he said he had no intent to kill. But Vieregg said Wooten's criminal history--four misdemeanor convictions, including stealing a handgun and assaulting two children--showed a "propensity for violence."
"I conclude that Mr. Wooten should have understood the consequences of his action," said Vieregg, sentencing Wooten to 30 years, with 20 suspended.
Wooten testified that he was on his apartment balcony early on New Year's Day when he saw Baughman attack the woman--who had been Baughman's girlfriend--including kicking her in the stomach and hitting her with a hammer. Wooten vaulted the railing, grabbed a pipe and hit Baughman, who died a few days later.
"I had no hatred toward him. I didn't know him," Wooten said.
The sentence angered both sides. "It's offensive to Baughman and his family," said Tracy Guinn, a family friend. Baughman's family, which is in the Philippines, did not attend the sentencing.
Ray Anthony Wooten Jr., the defendant's father, said the conviction should have been reduced to manslaughter, which carries a shorter sentence. "He came to someone's defense," the elder Wooten said. "I understand [Baughman's] parents suffering a loss, but I would have never condoned my son hitting a woman."
The sentence came after more than two hours of testimony from about a dozen juvenile court officials who said that Wooten's behavior and character had changed since he underwent an intense year-long rehabilitation in 1997.
Witness after witness said that Wooten had been transformed from an immature, arrogant, selfish boy who grew up in a crime-ridden neighborhood to a mature, disciplined and caring individual.
But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Todd Saunders asked the judge "to look at the entire picture," including Wooten's criminal record. "Are you going to say, 'Gee, you haven't been in trouble for a year so that's great'?"