A spirited effort to get a judge to reduce the 50-year active prison sentence he gave a teenage murderer more than four years ago failed Friday in Fredericksburg Circuit Court.

Jabar Ali Taylor, now 20, was convicted in December 2015 of two counts of second-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding and criminal solicitation.

The charges stemmed from the June 14, 2015, slayings of two men outside the Cook Out restaurant in the Greenbrier Shopping Center in Fredericksburg. Mac O. Hughes, 30, of Portsmouth and Anthony Carter, 28, of Albany, Ga., were stabbed to death and Edward Fitch of Stafford County was stabbed and seriously injured.

Taylor has been at the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Chesterfield County since his convictions. His legal team, attorney Shannon Ellis and two third-year law students, asked Judge Gordon Willis to revise his sentence so Taylor would only have to serve 10 more years once he enters the adult system next year instead of more than 40.

"Jabar is not an incorrigible criminal," law student Grace Bevilacqua said. "Not only will he not pose a risk to the community, he will enrich it."

Prosecutor Ed O'Shea disagreed, saying that Willis got the sentence right the first time.

"The reality is that Anthony Carter and Mac Hughes are still dead," O'Shea said. "And their children are still being raised without their fathers."

According to the prosecution evidence presented at the time, Fitch and some friends had gathered at a nightclub in the shopping center to celebrate Fitch's birthday. Around closing time, some members of the group headed to the nearby Cook Out to get something to eat.

Words were exchange between someone in Fitch's group and a group of teens. Taylor's older brother then started a physical altercation by running up to a car and trying to pull the driver out. Jabar Taylor joined in the fracas and stabbed three people, two fatally.

In lengthy court documents and in court Friday, Taylor's supporters insisted that he has matured and changed for the better. A number of professionals from the juvenile system testified on his behalf, including a teacher, a counselor and a pastor.

Bevilacqua argued that Taylor is clearly remorseful and has done everything in his power to improve himself during his stay at Bon Air.

"Young people can and do change," Bevilacqua said. "He is not the same immature adolescent the court sentenced four years ago, and he should be given a meaningful chance to re-enter society."

Willis ruled that his chance will come when he completes his sentence, by which time he would be in his 60s. Willis said Taylor's crimes were "tragic and senseless" and noted that Taylor has picked up three misdemeanor convictions since his murder convictions.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404


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