Months before Devin Scott was stabbed to death on his first day at Harding High School, he stood before Judge JaPaul Harris with plans to get his life in order.
From the bench recently, Harris remembered aloud how respectful the 15-year-old was. He also recalled the teen's excitement to start fresh at a new high school. But what stood out to Harris was Scott's potential — a potential he claimed to see in Scott's teenage killer during a post-sentencing victim impact hearing for family members Wednesday.
Nosakhere Kazeem Holmes, 17, pleaded guilty last week to first degree manslaughter for fatally stabbing Scott after the two fought in the school hallway in February. Holmes was arrested moments after with a bloodied 4-inch blade in his pocket. Prosecutors initially charged him with second-degree unintentional murder and tried moving his case to adult court, but Harris placed him on probation as an "extended jurisdiction juvenile" instead.
This means Holmes received both a juvenile probation sentencing and a stayed adult sentencing. He will remain in custody at the Juvenile Detention Center until a bed opens at the Department of Corrections' juvenile facility in Red Wing. Most minors complete the program there in nine months to a year, but there's currently a wait list.
If he violates his probation before turning 21, then he would serve his adult sentence of 8 1⁄2 years in prison minus credit spent for at least 293 days in custody.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Muteeat Lawal read statements from Scott's mother, Eniesha Hammond, and his younger brother as the two looked on in court. Hammond said her son was a natural leader who was caring, fun and helpful to others. His death shook their family and community.
"[Family] were in his life from the start, and loved him dearly. … He was confident and honest," Hammond said of Scott. "Lots of people and more families will be hurting, which breaks my heart to know."
In his statement, Scott's little brother Jayden Scott said he didn't realize his class was yards away from the fight that fatally injured his sibling. When he heard the news, he began to break down in silence.
"I just sat there, and it was like all the time I spent with him flashed before my eyes," his statement said, adding that he thinks about Devin every day. "These past months were the hardest of my life trying to get back to normal."
Holmes had little to say. He pledged to follow the rules of his probation, which include contacting his probation officer every week, abiding by a 9 p.m. curfew and possessing no weapons.
Lorraine Curtis, Holmes' mother, wiped away tears and apologized to Scott's family on behalf of her son.
"My heart pours out. I'm so sorry that this happened, and I can promise you that my son didn't mean for this to happen," Curtis said. "I'm sorry, and I know that [Nosakhere] will get through this program because that's what kind of person he is."
Before dismissing Holmes to begin his probation, Harris shared his experience with Devin Scott. He sees such potential within Holmes and Scott's little brother, but added that they must try to put their lives in order like Devin.
"I hope that at some point we can sit down … to really hash this out. Because I'm sick of this being hashed out in these ways where it's just spur of the moment, not thinking, and then we have loss of life," Harris said, adding that Holmes should think about the consequences of his actions. "You took a life, whether it was intentional or not."