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Plea deal in student killing

A gunman who shot into a crowd gets at least 10 years.

By JUSTIN GEORGE
Published January 31, 2007


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TAMPA - A picture of slain Dalshon Walton hangs in the living room, next to a cross. Every morning, his 3-year-old sister Symbia walks up to it and talks to her brother.

She was just a year old when Dalshon, 17, was killed in November 2005, but she cannot forget him, her grandmother, Mary Walton, said.

The family's loss is permanent, Mary Walton said, and she was disgusted Tuesday that his killer's punishment is not.

Otis Lorenzo Neal, 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Dalshon outside a McDonald's near King High School. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, 10 of which he must serve. Seven years of probation will follow.

The deal prosecutors offered also included Neal pleading guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting that wounded three other teens.

"That's all?" Mary Walton said into a phone with another relative listening nearby. "Hmm. 10 years? Seven years probation?"

"They give you more for dragging your dog down the street," Mary Walton said.

In the courtroom, Dalshon's mother, Talisha Eldridge, had told the judge she also disagreed with the sentence, prosecutor Steve Udagawa said.

But Udagawa said he tried to explain to Eldridge why this was the best option during an hourlong meeting last week.

It was a frenzied scene, where witnesses said Neal got out of a van and fired into a crowd after school had let out. Dalshon, a King High senior his friends called Elmo because of his cartoonish demeanor and good nature, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, witnesses and police said.

Times staff writer Colleen Jenkins contributed to this report. Justin George can be reached at 813 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

[Last modified January 31, 2007, 01:42:31]


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