One of Fayette County’s most high profile cases in recent memory has reached a final verdict.
In a Monday morning court hearing, Fayette County Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams accepted a guilty plea from 70-year-old Michael Lamar “Mickey” Graves on one count of involuntary manslaughter in the murder of his nephew, Jason Brett Graves, on February 20, 2016.
Mickey Graves was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is mandated to serve five years behind bars and spend the final five years on probation. He is also not allowed to harass or have contact with his family.
Further stipulations of his sentence include a $5000 fine, 80 hours of community service, barring of firearm possession and a ban on drinking or use of alcohol. He was immediately handcuffed and taken into police custody after the hearing.
Members of the Graves family in attendance were not happy with the court ruling. They wanted justice for Brett Graves and pleaded with Judge Sams to pursue a trial instead of the plea agreement orchestrated by District Attorney Benjamin Coker.
Larry Graves, brother of Mickey Graves and the father of Brett Graves, said that motive behind the murder was driven by greed. He said he trusted his brother to hash out the financial issues that existed within the family.
“The impact of Brett’s death has left my family devastated and my friends devastated,” Larry Graves said. “They want justice for Brett and I want justice for him.”
Other family members came up to the court’s podium to present testimonials in the case. Brett’s ex-wife Jessica Graves, his wife Damaris Martinez, his daughter Hattie Graves-Askew, 16, Brett’s parents, and various friends all showed up to give their emotional responses.
Many shed tears as they spoke and showed photos depicting the life that Brett Graves lived every day. Hattie Graves-Askew gave a moving statement as she outlined how she missed her father and wanted to seek justice.
“I have spent the last two years in agony,” Hattie Graves-Askew said.
She later responded that the details of the case will haunt her for the rest of her life. Jessica agreed with her daughter. She wanted to show that Brett Graves’ life mattered to everyone involved.
“I am asking the court to deny the plea deal and try this case,” Jessica said.
After hearing the statements from the family, Sams was so distraught with the presented information about the case. He was concerned by the lack of remorse from Mickey Graves and made it one of his main points in his deliberation.
“What bothers me is that the witnesses saw no remorse,” Sams said. “I have been sitting here fighting back tears and I have seen no remorse.”
Yet, Sams decided to agree to the plea deal as he weighed the facts of the case.
The murder case has been standing in court for nearly two years. Mickey Graves initially shot Brett Graves with a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun after a dispute at the family-owned Graves Used Cars and Parts junkyard.
He shot Brett Graves three times after firing one round into the floor of an office at the junkyard. They were both engaged in a financial dispute regarding the selling of timber to pay off debts incurred from the business.
Mickey Graves alleged that Brett Graves charged at him with a screwdriver and that caused him to shoot him in the chest. After he shot him, he called 911 from a landline phone and requested help.
While on the phone, additional gunshots were heard over the line. The shots came after Mickey Graves said that Brett Graves attempted to come back after him. The Fayette County Police Department decided to arrest Mickey Graves for the murder.
Ultimately, Sams said that no one wins in tragedies such as this case. He found that the decision was the best way to handle a case with evidence that supported complex aspects from different perspectives.
“I find it as a factual agreement to support the plea,” Sams said.
More information will be posted to Fayette-news.net as it comes available.