UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - Maryland prosecutors were asking for a life sentence, but on Thursday, a judge ordered convicted killer Jermaine Hailes to serve the next 70 years in prison.
Hailes was found guilty of first-degree murder in June after he shot a man in the face during an armed robbery six years ago.
The two families of 25-year-old Jermaine Hailes and 29-year-old Melvin Pate left Prince George's County Circuit Court on Thursday shattered after the sentencing.
"He couldn't do anything," said Felicia Pate, the murder victim's mother. "He kept asking me, 'Mom, let me go.' But it was me who wouldn't let my son go. I was selfish because I wasn't ready for him to go."
Melvin Pate died two years after the 2010 shooting.
The Hailes family has also lost a son -- he was also a father and brother. Jermaine Hailes was sentenced to 70 years in prison after being found guilty of pulling the trigger on the gun that was used to shoot and ultimately kill Pate during an armed robbery.
"It's definitely left a hole in our family," said Hailes mother's, Keela. "You know it's a blessing to be able to communicate with him when we can."
Jermaine Hailes will go to prison leaving behind a six-year-old daughter and his sister Tori.
"We do all we can to support our niece," said Hailes' sister. "We love her very much. I am very active. I love her. I let her know all the time her father loves her. We love her. She’s aware of everything."
The case became known as the blinking ID case because the victim was able to identify Hailes as the gunman from a photo lineup by blinking from his hospital bed.
This was the first time such evidence was used in a trial in Maryland and only the fourth time ever in the United States. Hailes is one of four people now sent to prison in this murder, which prosecutors said serves as a warning to others in the community.
"Sending the message that if you kill someone in Prince George’s County, while you may still be alive, we will take your life from you by incarcerating you," said John Erzen with the Prince George’s County State's Attorney’s Office. "And we will not allow you to walk our streets and be a part of our community."
Before being sentenced, Hailes told the court he fell short of his dreams and hadn't always made wise choices. He offered his condolences to the Pate family and hopes to one day to find freedom again.
The three other murder suspects have also pleaded guilty, and for their testimony against Hailes, they received lighter sentences.