LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- A Lafayette mother is speaking out for the first time after her teenage son was found guilty for attempted murder. News 18 sat down with Keya Erves for an exclusive interview.
Her son Iyon Erves could be facing more than 40-years in an adult prison. The 17-year-old was found guilty of attempted murder after a shooting outside Tippecanoe Mall, It happened back in December of 2019.
His sentencing was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 17 but the judge has allowed him more time.
"Iyon, he is a kind person, he cares about other people, he's always been that friend that you know, took up for other people that was getting picked on," Keya Erves.
This is how Keya Erves wants to remember her son despite the court's decision.
"I mean I got tunnel vision, it was dark, I didn't even hear the rest, I was in shock, I just -- I couldn't feel anything," said Keya.
Iyon was found guilty on six charges, the most severe one being attempted murder. According to court documents, he fired a few rounds outside the Tippecanoe Mall during a fight with another teen. Multiple witnesses say he was aiming his gun at someone.
"My kid, he did make a mistake, he made a mistake. But I think, you know, we all have made mistakes but I do believe he deserves a second chance.
"I had to cancel all our college meetings and visits to the campus," said Keya. "All of that hurt and that's what we were supposed to do when he turned 17, that was what we were looking forward to."
It was Iyon's dream to play professional football and Keya's dream to leave her kids better off than herself. Keya spent time on probation in 2018 after firing shots in the air during an altercation at a bar in 2018. She said she grew from that moment and hoped her experience would have deterred Iyon from going down that same path.
"Since I had him, my mission was to provide and not let him be a statistic, I wanted him -- I've changed my life, I did things, I've learned generational wealth and all this stuff because I wanted to pass that on and to let my kids know that you don't have to be a statistic," said Keya.
According to a Department of Justice study taken in 2015, Black youth are more than five times as likely to be detained or committed compared to other youth.
Keya said she and Iyon have always been close but she wished she knew the extent of what he was facing. Witnesses shared in court that issues over social-media may have played a role in the mall confrontation.
"When all this was happening, I didn't know how bad it was on social media," said Keya. "He would come in the house and come straight in my room he would play with his sister, you know, jump on my bed sometimes, you know he stopped doing that and he started going straight to his room, said Keya.
Keya's received support from hundreds of friends and family members since the start of the trial. Many have written leaders to present to Judge Sean Persin, who's overseeing the case, at the sentencing now scheduled for Sept. 11. She's hoping it'll make a difference in the sentencing.
"Steady getting these college letters in the mail with his name and it doesn't even matter -- It doesn't even matter," said Keya. "I just don't want this to change him or who he is, you know, the type of person that he is. I think it is going to change him, I don't think he's going to stay the same."