Reduced Charge For Defendant In Cheerleader Death

Germaine Strickland said the first time he met Josh Missiledine was at the Harrison County Courthouse the night of December 1, 2001.

Strickland said he and Christopher Shields got in Missiledine's car and drove to a trailer off Highway 53 to "get high." When they got to the trailer, Strickland says he sat in the car for a few minutes, then looked inside.

"When I walked up to the trailer, I acknowledged Chris swinging something in his hand at Josh. It was dark in the trailer but it was an object though. I guess from the size it was a stick, a wooden stick," he said.

Strickland apologized to Missiledine's family. They didn't buy his apology or his story.

"I think you knew exactly what was going on and you knew what happened afterwards. And you don't know how bad this destroyed my life," Missiledine's mother, Brenda Palmer, said.

"Both men were involved and that white boy that they went to meet that night, they knew what they were going to do with him," the victim's father, Jeff Missiledine, said.

The prosecution says Strickland cooperated with them. The state recommended a five year suspended sentence, and court ordered drug and alcohol rehab. Strickland's family asked the judge to follow the recommendation.

"My brother didn't do the crime that ya'll trying to say that he done. I believe him. He's been telling me the truth from day one," Strickland's sister, Kernetta McClendon, said.

Judge Jerry Terry noted that while it appeared that Strickland was only an accessory in Josh Missiledine's death, he didn't try to help the teenager. Terry sentenced Strickland to the maximum five years and ordered him into a drug treatment program.

Strickland's family members said they're disappointed that the judge didn't give him credit for time already served. However, his aunt says they're grateful Strickland will get the treatment he needs for his drug addiction.

The second man charged in the crime, Christopher Shields, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving 20 years.