BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A former football player for the University of Alabama at Birmingham was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison in the death of a nursing student who was shot during an online sale that went bad.
Carlos Stephens, 24, was convicted in April of capital murder in the 2020 shooting death of Destiny Washington, 20.
The shooting happened on UAB’s campus during the sale of $90 AirPods. Stephens claimed he fired in self-defense after Washington’s boyfriend pulled a gun first.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Kechia Davis said the case was “tragic on so many levels,” al.com reported.
“This is so sad for me because two young lives were taken from Jefferson County. Two young Black lives, and I feel like they were both on the road to being very successful – Destiny Washington and Mr. Stephens,” she said.
The shooting happened during the sale of a pair of AirPods that Washington’s boyfriend was selling to Stephens’ girlfriend. The transaction went sour amid accusations of counterfeit money and a fake product and ended with a deadly shot fired by Stephens.
Stephens surrendered to police two days after the shooting. His attorneys claimed their client fired in self-defense only after Washington’s boyfriend pulled a gun and threatened to “blow him away.”
Washington’s parents, Randy and Tora Washington, stood before the court Wednesday and delivered an emotional impact statement, at one point addressing Stephens.
“Destiny did not get a choice on Dec. 17, 2020. The choice that you made on that night to discharge a gun toward her vehicle comes with consequences,’’ Tora Washington said. “It may not be a consequence that you think is fair, but your parents will get a chance to hear your voice, see your face, and hug you. I will never get to do those things again with Destiny on this earth.”
Tora Washington said her daughter was set to graduate with a nursing degree from Lawson State in May 2021. She was in a dual enrollment program at UAB and was looking forward to furthering her education at UAB.
“She knew at an early age that she wanted to help people,’’ she said. “For career day at age 6 – she dressed the part. She wanted to be a nurse. She was a people person and did not mind helping anyone.”
Following sentencing, more than a dozen of Stephens’ family members were allowed to hug him and briefly speak with him one at a time.