GOSHEN -- According to his attorney, Charles Farrell III "has a remarkably clean record" -- except for his 1995 conviction for attempted murder.
That was the argument in Elkhart Circuit Court Thursday before Farrell got a 63-year sentence for murder during the commission of a felony.
Farrell's girlfriend, Joanne Harper, said Farrell is "a very loving person, a very caring person. Everybody makes mistakes."
However, Alphonso James' aunt doesn't see it that way.
Though Farrell didn't shoot and kill James, Annette James still blames him for her nephew's death.
"He took my nephew life and he took my mother life," she said, telling Farrell that her mom declined rapidly after Alphonso's death.
"You killed 'Phonso and you killed my mother. The burden is on me," she said of raising his four children. "I wish the judge would give you the max time there is," she told Farrell.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Vicki Becker said Harper's claims that her boyfriend was just in "the wrong place at the wrong time" just don't match with the evidence at the trial.
Though Farrell's attorney, Charles Lahey, said Farrell was "a relatively minor actor" in the events of July 25, 2009, in Elkhart.
However, Becker said Bruce White tried to rob James during a drug deal involving two kilograms of cocaine. When Daron Tuggle spoke up about it, Farrell pulled a gun on him, she said.
Judge Terry Shewmaker pointed out that the shooting was near 15 to 20 children, ages 9 months to 13 years, whose lives were placed at risk by "a veritable rainshower of bullets."
That's why Shewmaker imposed the 63-year sentence, just two years shy of the maximum.
Farrell said he will appeal the case.
Tuggle pleaded guilty and awaits his sentencing in December, after White's trial.