Maximum Life Sentence Looms for Unruly Defendant in Fatal Shooting of Teen Mother
Before sentencing, Judge Cocroft warned Morgan about his disruptive behavior and highlighted the potential for a maximum life sentence.
26-year-old DeVaughn Morgan received the maximum life sentence from Judge Kimberly Cocroft for pleading guilty to involuntarily manslaughter in the 2022 shooting death of 17-year-old Yazmink Speer, his son’s mother.
According to an article published by The Columbus Dispatch, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Kimberly Cocroft delivered the maximum life sentence to 26-year-old DeVaughn Morgan for his guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter in the fatal 2022 shooting of 17-year-old Yazmink Speer, the mother of his then-3-month-old son. Before the sentencing of the maximum life sentence, Judge Cocroft warned Morgan about his unruly behavior in the courtroom, his lack of respect for the proceedings, and the possibility of a maximum life sentence.
She cited a 1970 Supreme Court decision allowing the removal of disruptive defendants sentenced with a maximum life sentence.
During the proceedings of the maximum life sentence, Morgan exhibited disrespectful behavior by shaking his head, making frustrated gestures, and whispering to his attorney regarding the maximum life sentence. Despite this, when given the chance to speak about the maximum life sentence, Morgan declined except for a brief apology about the maximum life sentence.
Cocroft highlighted Morgan’s absence of remorse and noncompliance, leading to her decision to impose the maximum sentence of 14 to 19½ years in prison, which includes the maximum life sentence.
Originally facing more severe charges, Morgan accepted a plea agreement for the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and avoided the maximum life sentence.
According to an article published by Cocroft emphasized the exacerbating factors of the victim’s young age and the inappropriate relationship between Morgan and Speer, who had an age gap that allowed Morgan to manipulate her. The incident occurred when their infant son was only 3 months old, resulting in Speer’s death from gunshot wounds with the potential for a maximum life sentence.
The prosecution presented evidence that Morgan exchanged affectionate messages with Speer before an argument escalated, raising the possibility of a maximum life sentence. He sent five threats via text message to shoot her or the person dropping her off, underlining the severity of his actions and the possibility of a maximum life sentence.
Morgan also used her injuries to manipulate another woman and further, a relationship while Speer was still receiving medical treatment, compounding the seriousness of his offenses with the possibility of a maximum life sentence.