LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A family in Lafayette is getting some closure after two years of grieving the death of John Byler.
In January of 2017, Byler was shot in an apartment on Center Street.
According to court documents, Wesley Hampton, Aarron Vance and allegedly Adam Worthington were trying to burglarize the apartment that day. They were masked and demanded drugs and money.
Vance, 37, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Friday but not for the murder of John Byler. He pleaded guilty to burglary resulting in serious bodily injury.
It was a deal Judge Sean Persin reluctantly accepted saying, "This is not fair." However, he explained that he would accept it so the victim's family doesn't have to endure the pain and stress of a trial.
In court, a social worker talked about Vance's rough childhood. Vance told the social worker he was physically and sexually abused. He said he started dealing, manufacturing and using drugs as a small child. The social worker said quote, "he never stood a chance."
Ultimately, the judge said his lengthy criminal history gave Vance plenty of opportunities to turn his life around. He was shot twice and that still didn't inspire him to change. Judge Persin said, "He knows what being shot is like, he's been there, and this occurs? It's shocking."
Though it's said to have been Vance's gun, Vance claims Hampton was the one who pulled the trigger.
Byler's mother didn't care. She looked Vance in the eye and told him he was just as guilty for the murder of her son.
She also noted how she took offense to the fact Vance was smiling, laughing and waving at his friends and family before the sentencing hearing started. Vance later apologized in his statement to the court, claiming he didn't mean to offend, he just hadn't seen his family in a really long time.
Byler's sister talked about how much pain this has caused her family.
Vance has been shot twice before this incident. Byler's sister said, "Sadly he survived."
She said that shooting should have been a wake up call for him to change his life, but it wasn't.
Byler's dream to travel the world and that opportunity was taken from him.
In Vance's statement to the court, he said he never intended for John Byler's death and claimed he was in a drugged blur. "I hope you can forgive me," said Vance. "I am very religious and I care about my soul and I want to make it into heaven."
After the sentencing, News 18 asked Byler's family for a comment. They sent us the following in an email:
"We are very pleased that Judge Persin pronounced the maximum sentences allowed under the plea agreements for Wesley Hampton and Aarron Vance, two of the men responsible for the robbery and murder of our brother and son John Byler. Both of these individuals have an almost lifelong history of committing crimes, including violence against others. Both have a long history of continuing to commit crimes while incarcerated for other crimes and while on probation or parole, demonstrating their flagrant disrespect for the law. Both were found to be habitual offenders. Judge Persin evaluated the crimes to which Hampton and Vance pled guilty, along with mitigating and aggravating factors presented by the defense and prosecution and correctly decided that they need to be incarcerated for as long as possible within the confines of the plea agreements. With this sentence, Judge Persin has made Lafayette and surrounding areas a bit more safe. We would like to thank the Lafayette Police Department, who worked tirelessly on the investigation. The police place themselves in danger on a daily basis while trying to maintain law and order, including their contribution to maintaining the safety of the community citizens. While many staff from the police office contributed to resolution of these cases, we would like to say a special thanks to Detective Sherry, Detective Dempster and Detective Taul. We would also like to thank the Prosecutor's office who worked tirelessly on their investigation and preparation of the cases for trial initially and ultimately for the sentencing hearings including, but not limited to Natasha Corbett, Pat Harrington, and Cassidy Laux. And finally, thanks to the Victim Specialists Jessica Dykhuizen and Echo Harrington for their support through this process.
If the community has the opportunity, please take the time to let the police and prosecutor staff know your appreciation of the work they do on a regular basis.
A third person has been arrested for his involvement in the crimes against John. If anyone has more information about the commission of the crimes that occurred on January 16, 2017, please contact the Lafayette Police Department.
Finally, John was known for his acts of kindness toward others. In remembrance of John, please engage in an act of kindness toward someone else and continue to pay it forward."
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