It was a crime the shocked the entire Buffalo community after a 13-year-old boy killed another boy his same age in a dispute over an iPhone.
Jean Sanchez, 13, ended up pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder for strangling Ameer Al-Shammari, who was also 13.
The teen killer was sentenced to the maximum for someone his age, an indeterminate sentence of 9 years to life in jail.
In May 2014, Sanchez had taken a 3-day-old iPhone from Al-Shammari who had received it as a gift from his parents for doing good work at the Waterfront Elementary School.
Sanchez then lured Al-Shammari to an empty field off Amherst Street, Buffalo under pretenses that he would help get the phone back.
Instead, Sanchez murdered and sodomized the Iraqi teenager.
Al-Shammari and his family were refugees from Iraq who were threatened in their own country for helping the U.S. Army. A friendly general helped the family come to America through the United Nations which settled them in Buffalo.
Two years after escaping insurgents, bombs, and death-threats, Ameer had lost his life while trying to get his cell phone back in Buffalo's Black Rock section.
The crime sent shockwaves through the local Iraqi community which is estimated to be around 2,500 people.
During sentencing in Erie County Court, Judge Sheila DiTullio said Sanchez was the most violent teenager she ever dealt with in all her years on the bench.
Prosecutors said Sanchez had a violent history that included guns, threats, and insubordinate behavior even before he killed Al-Shammari. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Finnerty said the violent behavior continued with Al-Shammari as Sanchez strangled his victim using shoe and draw strings taken from Al-Shammari.
During the murder, that Finnerty said took nearly seven minutes, Sanchez became so aroused by what was happening that he also sexually assaulted the Al-Shammari.
"You should remain in jail for a very long time. It is simply the only way to protect this community from a criminal - a sadistic teenager like yourself," said Erie County Court Judge Sheila Ditullio.
Sanchez tried to say he was sorry, but loud crying from the victim's mother in court stopped the convicted killer from saying anything more.
Due to his age, Sanchez could be eligible for parole in nine years, but prosecutors and family members pleaded with the justice system to make sure that does not happen.
Al-Shammari's family used an Iraqi interpreter to understand what was going on and they had a statement read on their behalf by prosecutors. Ameer's parents said their son was so happy to finally leave war-torn Iraq that Ameer cried on the plane ride to America saying he could finally go outside and play.
Jean Sanchez will begin his jail term in a juvenile facility. When he turns 16, it will be determined if he will be placed in an adult facility.
Defense attorney Paul Dell said he plans to appeal the sentence on grounds it it is unconstitutional for someone who was 13-years-old at the time of the killing.
Stay in Touch Anywhere, Anytime with News, Weather and Video -- Download the WKBW app:
Or Sign Up for Our Newsletters -- Delivered to Your E-mail:
? Related Modules (3)