Slain Cheerleader's Family Finally Gets Justice - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/20/04

Slain Cheerleader's Family Finally Gets Justice

Christopher Shields pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the December, 2001 death of Josh Missiledine. The teen died of head injuries.

Shields told Judge Jerry Terry that he never intended to hurt the Harrison Central High cheerleader when they got into a fight at an abandoned trailer off Highway 53.

Shields told Judge Jerry Terry he, Josh Missiledine and another man, Germaine Strickland, all agreed to meet at a vacant trailer to, "drink and smoke weed."

Shields says when he got to the trailer in the early morning hours of December 1, 2001, Missiledine and Strickland were arguing over drug money. A fight started, and Shields says he tried to break it up.

A soft spoken Shields told the judge, "I knew he (Josh) was hurt. When I left the trailer I didn't know how bad. I remember him sayin' something. I know I didn't do anything. Maybe he could've been saved. It wasn't intentional".

Missiledine's family filled the first two rows in the courtroom. Before the judge sentenced Shields, he heard from some of them. One after another they faced their loved one's killer. Shields refused to look at them.

Jason Russell, an uncle said, "He has put a hole in my family that cannot be erased. You can hang him right here in this courtroom, it would not take away the pain in my family."

Missiledine's Step-father Rick Palmer said, "You even had a chance to possibly turn this around after you left that trailer. He was still alive. You could've stopped and called 911 but you simply chose to let him die."

For that crime, Judge Terry sentenced Shields to 20 years.

Missiledine's mother, Brenda Palmer, said, "I'm just glad it's over with. I think part of justice has been done. It won't bring my son back but we put somebody else behind bars that won't hurt anybody else."

Palmer says she doesn't buy Shields' story that her son used drugs.

"I was told there was a blood test done and there wasn't any alcohol or anything in his blood so no, he didn't, no."

Christopher Shields is a habitual offender. Along with the manslaughter sentence, he will also serve five years for a 2001 burglary that he committed in Biloxi. Shields also served more than two years for two robberies he committed in 1992.

As far as the other defendant in the Josh Missiledine case, Germaine Strickland is charged with murder. His attorney says he's not sure how Shields's plea will impact Strickland's case.

byMarcia Hill

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