Updated 08/08/2012 03:55 PM
Vanderhorst sentenced to 25 years for killing Tyler Rhodes
The second teenager convicted in the murder of Tyler Rhodes was sentenced Wednesday. Our Megan Cruz was in court when Jah-Lah Vanderhorst was handed down the maximum sentence.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- If a picture's worth a thousand words, Acting Supreme Court Justice Dan Lamont says a video is worth a million. That's why he says he sentenced Jah-Lah Vanderhorst to 25 years in prison for stabbing 17-year-old Tyler Rhodes in the heart last April.
Both the Rhodes and Vanderhorst families came to court Wednesday to hear the decision themselves.
"Hopefully Tyler can rest in peace now and this is a chapter closed in my life," said Tyler's mother Stacey Rhodes.
"I don't blame my son for defending himself," said Vanderhorst's father. "I praise him for being here."
Vanderhorst's father is standing by his son's version of that night in Hoffman Park. During the trial, Vanderhorst admitted stabbing Rhodes in the heart, but said he did so in self-defense.
"She's saying her son is a community leader and this and that, but where was she when he was coming to my house and tormenting my son, harassing my son?" asked Vanderhorst's mother.
"We all know the truth," said Rhodes. "Tyler was good in the community, he was great, he loved everybody."
Despite facing 25 years for his first degree manslaughter conviction, Vanderhorst, who celebrated his 18th birthday last week, got married Wednesday right before the sentencing.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares says the wedding was inconsiderate.
"It almost flaunted that in the face of the pain that everyone else was experiencing in court today," he said. "I thought it was in very poor form."
Rhodes' mom chose to speak at the sentencing, saying to Vanderhorst that he's caused her family so much pain. Vanderhorst chose not to respond. She said a "sorry" would have been nice.
"I'll never see my son again, but his family, they don't get to see him every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but they get to visit him," said Rhodes. "I don't have anything. The only thing I have are pictures and memories."
Vanderhorst's lawyers say they're considering an appeal.
The other teen convicted in Rhodes' killing was 20-year-old Dhoruba Shuaib who was also convicted of manslaughter earlier this year. He's currently serving his 21 year sentence.