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ST. CHARLES (CBS) — A Streamwood woman was sentenced to 34 years in prison on Wednesday for using her car as a weapon to kill a 17-year-old boy over a dispute with her son.
Timera Branch, 35, was convicted of first-degree murder in August for driving her car into John “Little John” Keyes III, of Elgin, exactly two years ago on Wednesday.
As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, prosecutors said Branch ran Keyes down, pinning him against an apartment building, after Keyes got into a fight with her son.
Branch was facing up to 60 years in prison and Keyes’ family believes the 34 years she got was just not enough.
“She took my son’s life and she should pay dearly; much more than some 34 years!” Keyes’ father, John Wesley Keyes Jr., said after the sentence was handed down. He thought Branch should have received the maximum sentence.
“When you run somebody into a wall with a car, you know exactly what you are doing,” he said.
Prosecutors said Branch gunned her car, running into “Little John” and pinning him against a wall, crushing him.
The night before Keyes died, Branch’s son, LaCorbek Benion, got in a fight with him and ended up in the hospital. Prosecutors said Branch was out for vigilante justice.
“A child was murdered by another child’s mother,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon said. “Her senseless criminal acts resulted in two families being destroyed.”
Branch’s attorney, Liam Dixon, said, “I think she completely snapped after months, if not years, of her son being beat up and being frustrated. It came out in that one second and that one second has changed innumerable lives.”
At her sentencing, Branch said she was tired of her son being bullied by others and she just lost it.
“I’m truly sorry for what happened to their son. I can’t change that,” Branch told the judge.
But Keyes Jr. said, “I don’t accept it. I’ll never forgive her, because she is not paying for what she did.”
Keyes Jr. said that, when Branch gets out of jail, she’ll be 68 years old and she’ll still be able to live her life. He said his son can’t do the same.
At sentencing, the judge said he made his decision based on the fact that Branch had no previous criminal record. That’s why she was sentenced to 34 years, not 60.
Her son, who was 16 at the time of Keyes’ death, was also charged with first degree murder, for beating Keyes with a bat after the crash. His trial date still has to be set.