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DULUTH — Brian Allen told the court that his life has stopped, his thought process is frozen. It has been eight months since his son Paris Allen was fatally shot in the head during a visit home for testing to see if he could donate a kidney to Brian, who has long battled cancer.

"I can't explain what it is like to be a single parent, to raise a child from his first breath almost to his last," he said Tuesday afternoon at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth. "What sentence I got is a lifetime of pain and memories that will never refresh."

Allen closed his victim impact statement with a plea to Sixth District Judge Eric Hylden: that Brandon Williams-Gillard, who was found guilty on three counts related to the drive-by shooting, get the maximum sentence for the role he played from the passenger seat of a blue Chrysler on Aug. 2, 2023. Hylden didn't depart from sentencing guidelines. Williams-Gillard, in both handcuffs and shackles, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, along with additional concurrent sentences.

Hylden, whose son died of an overdose in 2009, addressed Brian Allen with words from his own experience with this "unique grief" of being a father to a dead son.

"The one thing I have to say to you is that it's going to get better," he said. "Your son waits for you, to see you happy again."

A jury deliberated for nine hours in late 2023 before convicting Williams-Gillard of aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and assault with a dangerous weapon, and drive-by shooting. In addition to Allen's death, his friend Caleb Reinolt-Nemec was wounded when a bullet went through his hip.

A jury trial for the driver, Sanussi Tamsir Bangoura, starts June 11. Bangoura, described in court documents as the primary shooter, faces similar charges and is currently in the St. Louis County Jail. He is also facing unrelated charges of third-degree criminal sexual misconduct and use of a minor in sexual performance/pornographic work.

Witnesses testified during the trial that there had been a long-running beef between Allen's circle of friends and Williams-Gillard and Bangoura — though it had never in the past escalated beyond threats. It hit its apex when the defendants drove up on Jackson Morales in a church parking lot and challenged him. Morales didn't like the odds, so he asked them to box at a spot down the street.

The men in the Chrysler followed Morales back to where his friends, who included Allen and Reinolt-Nemec, were hanging out. They approached the blue Chrysler, but Bangoura and Williams-Gillard refused to get out. Reinolt-Nemec said in his testimony that he punched Bangoura through the drivers' side window then ran.

He said he felt a bullet hit him before he heard the shots.

Allen lived on-and-off in Duluth when he was growing up. He was just a couple of days into a visit from California when he was hit in the head with the single bullet.

Ogima Joseph Currieis facing charges for retaliatory shots fired at the nearby apartment shared by Williams-Gillard and Bangoura soon after Allen was killed. His pretrial hearing is May 23.

Williams-Gillard kept his head down for most of the sentencing hearing, but occasionally looked over in the direction of the speakers, which also included Paris Allen's uncle Gary Allen. The defendant touched at his eyes with a tissue. In the end, Williams-Gillard asked to stand and face the victims' family members, but he was told to address the court instead.

He apologized for his actions that day, and he also credited Brian Allen with being a present father — a relationship Williams-Gillard said he hasn't known.

"I can't imagine the pain and suffering you've gone through," Williams-Gillard said.

Brian Allen, after leaving the courtroom, said he was grateful for the support he has gotten, from phone calls to food. One beautiful thing has come from this, he said: Paris Allen was an organ donor and helped numerous people in need of transplants.