PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - As the holiday season approaches, the Fairley family prepares for a fourth year without their oldest son.
Donikos Jones, a Pascagoula High School graduate and newlywed, had recently moved to Sacramento when his life came to a tragic end in 2005.
"He was Christmas shopping for his wife on December 23 and was getting her Christmas presents out of the trunk of his car," said Donikos' stepmother Pamela Fairley. "There had been a gang-related incident earlier in the day that he wasn't aware of, and they had retaliated on the neighborhood. He was killed as an innocent bystander to a neighborhood shooting."
Although the shooter was never identified, two Sacramento men were convicted of second degree murder Friday and sentenced to 21 years to life in prison. Fairley said the family is devastated the sentence was not more severe.
"We're outraged at them. We're outraged at the situation. We've become angry at life for a minute," Fairley said. "I think they should have been charged with first degree murder. I think first degree murder with the possibility of the death penalty would have been a strong message to such violent crimes to innocent people. Our son was just an innocent person."
The verdicts brought no closure to the Fairley family.
"We won't get to see his children," Fairley said. "We won't get to see his future as a college graduate. His father won't be able to take him fishing anymore on the Gulf Coast."
The Fairleys remember Donikos as a loving, hard-working person with an infectious personality and a gentle spirit. They said they are taking their grief day by day, and cling to memories of the son and brother they won't get back.
"There really are no words that will describe a family losing a child and a brother and a sister and a cousin and uncle," Fairley said.
Fairley said Jones graduated from high school in 2003 and was working as a licensed plumber while his wife finished college.