Students at Friendship Collegiate Academy mourn at a vigil slain classmate Steve Slaughter in January. (Friendship Collegiate Academy)

A D.C. man who admitted taking part in the deadly botched robbery of a 14-year-old boy in Southeast Washington pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, agreeing to a deal with prosecutors after rejecting a plea bargain last month.

Anthony Deandre Allen, 22, had been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Steve Slaughter, a high school freshman gunned down Jan. 14 as he and two friends, also 14, were walking along Minnesota Avenue SE with snacks and sodas they had just bought at a 7-Eleven. The other boys escaped unharmed.

After his arrest in March, Allen told police that he and two companions were riding in a stolen Mercedes, with Allen behind the wheel, when they saw the three youngsters leaving the 7-Eleven. Allen said one of his cohorts got out of the car to rob the boys and then opened fire with a .45-caliber pistol after Steve and his friends started to run.

Steve, shot three times, collapsed on a patch of dirt and died that night at a hospital. The robbery remains under investigation and the other suspects have not been charged.

In the District, first-degree and second-degree murder are both punishable by up to life in prison. But a judge can impose a lesser sentence for second-degree than for first-degree. Last month, Allen agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and attempted robbery. Then, at the last minute, he changed his mind.

Steve Slaughter played organized football every season starting in the first grade. He is pictured here at age 12 in 2015 with his Southeast Tarheels youth league team. (Family photo)

Standing in shackles in D.C. Superior Court on Nov. 14, Allen was in the process of signing the plea agreement when he instructed his attorney, Madalyn Harvey, to ask the prosecutor if he could have a more favorable deal. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gilead Light replied, “This is the final offer from the government, and it does expire today.”

With that, Judge Craig Iscoe said to Allen, “They’re never going to make a better offer than this, you understand that?” After Allen answered, “Yup,” the judge asked whether he wanted the deal. “Nope,” said Allen, who was taken back to the D.C. jail.

In the weeks since, he changed his mind again about a plea bargain. And it turned out the judge was correct: He did not get a better deal — he got a worse one.

Both deals included second-degree murder. But the bargain he rejected included an additional charge of attempted robbery, punishable by no more than a three-year sentence. In the deal he wound up accepting Tuesday, the attempted robbery charge was replaced by a more serious charge of attempted robbery while armed, which carries a prison term of up to 30 years and a minimum sentence of five years.

Harvey, his court-appointed lawyer, has declined to comment on the case. Iscoe scheduled sentencing for April 26.

Steve’s uncle, Nicholas Gaither, said Thursday that he and Steve’s mother, Tiffanie Jones, were pleased with the plea agreement.

“Oh, yeah, my sister, she’s real happy,” Gaither said, referring to Jones. “He’s going to get a lot of years. He’s sitting in the D.C. jail now, but wait until he gets up to the penitentiary where the big boys are at. His attitude is going to change then.”

Steve and his two friends had purchased candy, chips and sodas at the 7-Eleven on 14th Street SE. As they left the store shortly before 7 p.m., they probably had less than $20 collectively, one of the friends said in an interview. He said Steve had no money.

He was the District’s fifth homicide victim in what has turned out to be a violent year in the nation’s capital, with 152 slayings as of Thursday afternoon, up 43 percent from the same period in 2017.

Police recovered the stolen Mercedes four nights after the shooting and said they found Allen’s left thumbprint on the outside mirror on the driver’s side. They also said that Allen’s cellphone records suggest that he was in the Mercedes and near the crime scene at the time of the killing. After Allen was arrested, police said, he confessed to being involved in the botched robbery and identified the two other suspects.

However, absent corroborating evidence, the statement of one suspect in a crime generally isn’t sufficient to warrant the arrests of others. Allen’s two alleged accomplices remain on the streets while police seek additional evidence against them.