SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Following a judge’s acceptance of a plea deal, an Indiana man will spend up to 35 years behind bars in relation to his role in the shooting death of Shelburn 15-year-old Mezmariah L. Wilson.

Kyle Ray Johnson, 22, appeared in Sullivan County Superior Court for a sentencing hearing Friday morning. The sentence follows Johnson’s plea agreement which court records show was signed in September.

Johnson had been facing a murder charge; however, the guilty plea was to the lesser charge of level 2 felony voluntary manslaughter.

Judge Hugh R. Hunt handed down a 20-year sentence for the manslaughter charge with an additional 15-year enhancement due to the proximity to a school building.

Pam Potter, Wilson’s Aunt, was in attendance Friday and spoke to WTWO about the sentencing.

“When they first said how much time he is going to get, I sighed a little because I felt like it wasn’t enough. But then they added on some more time as well and I saw Kyle’s head drop and then could hear that he was upset and then I saw his lawyer hand him some tissues,” Potter recalled. “I’m sure that was hard for him to hear. So, it made me sad on both sides. Again, I felt like, they say justice needs to be served, I just feel like nobody ever wins. We’ve lost a lot and they’ve lost a lot as well.”

Image showing law enforcement leading Kyle Ray Johnson in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit into the Sullivan County Courthouse (WTWO)

Johnson is the first of two defendants facing charges related to the death of Wilson on June 10, 2021, in Carlisle. The other defendant, Matthew Todd Earle, is scheduled for a pre-trial conference in Sullivan court on November 3.

Family members said they want Wilson to be remembered by her loving personality, “She loved everyone. She was the heart of our family and kept all of us together. She was just so outgoing and friendly,” Potter said.

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