By Erin Fuchs
DALTON, Ga. -- A Hispanic gang member has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the slaying of a popular Dalton High School football star Andre Johnson, the district attorney said.
Edgar Hernandez, 21, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after the plea was entered in Whitfield County Superior Court on Monday.
Mr. Johnson, 16, was shot to death last Memorial Day outside a small store near Dalton after an exchange with members of the Tiny Winos gang, Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kermit McManus said during an earlier hearing.
Mr. McManus said he could not prove premeditation, so he decided not to pursue a murder charge.
"Unless you can show that it was a planned event, it's rare that you're going to get a murder conviction," the prosecutor said. "The event spontaneously happened."
Mr. Hernandez, who's not a citizen, will be turned over to immigration authorities and likely deported after his release from prison, Mr. McManus said.
Three defendants who were with the shooter were also sentenced Monday.
They pleaded guilty to violation of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and were sentenced to probation.
A fifth defendant, who pleaded guilty to gang crimes last month, will be sentenced after Mr. McManus "connects" with his Atlanta-based lawyer, he said.
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See tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press for complete coverage.