Plea deal struck in 2015 murder of Savannah State student

Crime & Safety

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Sharron Starks says she’s at a loss for words regarding the decision to give her son’s killer, Justin Stephens, a plea deal that will result in his release Tuesday afternoon.

She questions why their family found out through the victim’s advocate and not anyone at the courthouse.

“How I found out that he was gonna take a plea was through the victim’s advocate,” said Sharron Starks, Cristopher’s mother. “We was just having a conversation, she said, ‘Oh she’s at home going over the plea,’ or putting the plea together, and I was like, ‘A plea?'”

Christopher Starks was shot and killed in the student union building on Savannah State’s campus in August of 2015 by Stephens, who was not a student at the university. 

Stevens brought a firearm onto campus and fired it once into a crowd during a fight, killing Christopher Starks.

It took nearly four years to bring Stephens to trial following the 2015 murder, which ended in a mistrial in July of 2019.

Stephens’ plea will have him released on time served, and he will serve the next 17 years on probation.

WSAV News 3 received a statement from the Starks family that reads, in part, “We are incredibly disappointed by today’s announcement of a plea deal for the killer of our son. It is outrageous that this man could walk onto a college campus and into the student union, shoot our son in cold blood and then be released with what amounts to a slap on the wrist.”

Sharron Starks says at this point, she’s not sure what the next move is, but has faith that their legal team will continue the fight. 

“Moving forward, it’s completely in God’s hands,” said Sharron Starks. “And for families who are going through the same thing, there’s no straight path to justice.”

WSAV reached out to the district attorney’s office for a statement and has yet to receive a response.

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