WALDORF, Md. - Earlier this year, a teenager was badly beaten by a classmate and left unconscious at a Maryland high school. Eight months later, the victim's attacker has been sentenced for his crime. But what happened in the courtroom shocked everyone and is providing an important lesson of forgiveness.
Joshua Wilson suffered the beating in the boy's bathroom at Westlake High School in Waldorf back in February. Today, he is making strides with the help of three doctors, but still suffers lasting effects from a severe concussion.
"I still have numbness on the left side of my face off and on and sleep paralysis sometime," Wilson said. "Basically sometimes at night, I can't move or do anything for like a good five minutes."
The 16-year-old's attacker was facing up to five years in a juvenile detention center. But on Tuesday morning, it came as a surprise to Wilson's mother, Latisha, and everyone else in the courtroom when the judge asked Joshua to speak. This is what he had to say to everyone.
"I don't want him to be taken away from his family," Wilson told us. "I want him to spend more time with his family, do better in school - stuff like that. Go to college."
He added, "There are too many young people going to jail these days. We're still learning gradually and I know we all learn from our mistakes."
Joshua said he started to have a change of heart over the past few months, and it was quite the surprise to the defendant, both families and the judge.
"Basically his mom bust out in tears thanking me, and I started crying too," he said. "[The defendant] was just saying thank you, apologizing for what he did. He [said he] didn't know what was going through his head."
Joshua's mother said she was still angry over the incident and wanted the boy to receive five years behind bars for his crime. But her own son taught her a life lesson about forgiveness and is very proud of him. She described her feelings in a heartfelt Facebook post about her son's ability to forgive.
The defendant received probation and was ordered to attend anger management classes as well as complete community service. Joshua's mother said the boy would have served at least some time behind bars had her son not asked for his release.