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LaKeith Smith Receives 65-Year Sentence For The Death Of A Teen Killed By A Cop

Under Alabama's accomplice liability law, LaKeith Smith received 65 years for the death of his friend accused of breaking into homes, but was killed by a cop.

Much attention has been paid to 18-year-old LaKeith Smith who laughed in an Alabama courtroom before a judge handed down a 65-year-sentence for felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft, and third-degree theft.

However, Smith did not kill anyone.

According to reports, when Smith was 15 years old, he along with a group of four friends were confronted by Montgomery police who accused them of breaking into homes in the area. Smith's friend, 16-year-old A'Donte Washington, reportedly brandished a gun, and was shot four times by a police officer and died.

Yet, under Alabama's accomplice liability law, Smith was tried as adult and charged in Washington's death despite him being killed by a cop. A grand jury found the officer--whose name has been withheld from the public--justified in the killing.

WFSA 12 News reports that Smith said, "I don't have time for this" while waiting for Judge Sibley Reynolds to hand down a sentence. Angrily, Reynolds replied, “You've got plenty of time for this." Smith laughed and lowered his head, stating he didn't know the judge heard him.

Smith's grandfather however made an emotional plea to Reynolds begging for his grandson's freedom. "Give him a chance to tell you he’s sorry," the grandfather asked.

District Attorney C.J. Robinson was in agreement with the judges sentencing. “I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,” Robinson said. “We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.”

However, Smith's lawyers felt the length of time behind bars was unjust. “The officer shot A’Donte, not Lakeith Smith,” Holton said. “Lakeith was a 15-year-old child, scared to death. He did not participate in the act that caused the death of A’Donte. He never shot anybody.”

Smith turned down a 25 year plea deal and received 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary and 10 years each for the two thefts.

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South Carolina High School Students May Soon Take A Personal Finance Class

High school students in South Carolina may now have to pass a personal finance class in order to receive their diploma.

According to reports, Republican lawmakers Luke Rankin and Horry County Senator have filed a pre-bill that will require high school students to take a class that will aim to help students learn how to better budget their money.

"You can really put yourself in a really bad hole that you're gonna be digging yourself out of the rest of your life," financial planner Dr. Christopher St. John said.

The course will cover insurance, taxes, retirement planning, budgeting, banking, and how to avoid too much debt.

Finance website Make Lemonade reports there are more than 44 million borrowers who owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt within the United States. Student loan debt has become the second highest debt among consumers followed by mortgage debt.

The class of 2016, reportedly has $37,172 in student loan debt.

If the bill is passed, it would go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year. The course would be required and student who take a test at the end of the year prior to graduation.

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Former Chicago Cop Jason Van Dyke Sentenced For Killing Laquan McDonald

Former Chicago police officer, Jason Van Dyke, could end up serving just over three years in prison for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke was sentenced to 81 months Friday (Jan. 18), and according to the Chicago Tribune , the former officer is eligible to receive credit for good behavior.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan had to decide between sentencing Van Dyke for second-degree murder or aggravated battery, the latter of which carried a mandatory minimum of six years in prison, the Tribune reports. Gaughan decided that it made more sense to sentence Van Dyke for murder, which makes him eligible for early release.

McDonald was shot to death in 2014. At the time, authorities claimed that the teen was behaving erratically while carrying a small knife. The police department waited 13 months to release video of the shooting. In the footage, McDonald is seen walking away from the cops as Van Dyke opens fire, shooting him 16 times. Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the CPD, was arrested and quickly released on bond the day that the video was made public. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and more than a dozen charges of aggravated battery last October.

Darren O'Brien, Van Dyke’s lawyer, pushed for sentencing “leniency,” due in part to his client’s clean criminal record. Depicting O’Brien as the victim, Van Dyke stated that his client feared for his life when he killed McDonald.

“He didn’t start the confrontation,” O’Brien said. “He reacted to what Mr. McDonald did..Everything that happened was set in motion by Mr. McDonald.”

Gaughan called the court case a tragedy for families from both parties. “It’s just so senseless that these acts occur because you can see the pain on both sides. This is a tragedy for both sides."

Van Dyke's sentence came a day after a Cook County judge acquitted three CPD officers charged with covering up the shooting.

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Rep. Maxine Waters meets with CBS Vice President of News and Executive Director of Staff Development and Diversity, Kim Goodwin, and CBS Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, Christopher Isham, on Capitol Hill. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Waters Office)

Maxine Waters Meets With CBS To Discuss Media Diversity And Inclusion

California Rep. Maxine Waters met with CBS' Vice President of News and Executive Director of Staff Development and Diversity to discuss the lack of media diversity and inclusion within the media empire.

Their meeting steemed from the network's recent release of their predominately clear  team for the coverage of the 2020 presidential election. Comprised of 4 white producers, 5 white-passing reporters and 3 journalists of color, though the 2020 campaigns reporting staff does not have any black anchors.

It's Official: The @CBSNews 2020 Election Team has assembled! https://t.co/0GBCw4mj7s pic.twitter.com/E0rUDAkzf7

— Ben Mitchell (@bfmitchell) January 11, 2019

Waters, like other prominent speakers in the black community, have discussed their reluctance to embrace the staff citing issues with who will tackle the roles that racism will play in elections and the role racism has been playing in the United States. Taking the issues directly to the source, the congresswomen had a discussion with the higher up's to talk redirection.

“The CBS representatives accepted full responsibility and understood the troubling optics-- and subsequent public backlash -- that occurred as a result of the rollout of their 2020 presidential election team. CBS admitted that the initial 2020 campaign team did not reflect the diversity that the company had committed to; assured me that it will not happen again; and revealed that in the coming months they will unveil a more diverse and inclusive slate of African American journalists and journalists from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences,"  Waters said in a press statement.

"They also identified key individuals in Washington, D.C. and New York City, NY whom they have brought onto their team to fulfill this mission and ensure their news organization reflects the diversity of the country and the communities who will most certainly be engaged in the 2020 elections."

The 43rd district representative has vowed to hold CBS accountable for their diversity issues and is dedicated to working alongside her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus.

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