LARGO — Two families from the same community sat on opposite sides of the courtroom Friday.
They prayed to the same God for different results — one wanted the maximum punishment while the other sought leniency — but they all said they wanted justice and compassion.
And they all seemed to agree with Judge Joseph A. Bulone on one thing: The madness must stop.
"We are getting closure today on this case, but what we need is closure on the violence," Bulone said Friday before delivering his sentence. "It must be stopped and stopped now."
In the end, after listening to the family members of Allan Burney and Michael Scott, Bulone sentenced Burney, 21, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In a three-day trial that ended Aug. 27, a jury found Burney guilty of second-degree murder for the Oct. 8, 2007, shooting of 23-year-old Scott in Clearwater's North Greenwood community.
Burney, the co-creator of a DVD series that depicted violence in North Greenwood, also was convicted of three counts of attempted murder in the second degree and shooting at, within or into a vehicle in the shooting that killed Michael Scott and seriously wounded his brother, Antonio Scott.
Burney plans to appeal the verdict.
A second man, Gaylord Shaw, 20, is also charged with second-degree murder and shooting at, within or into a vehicle in the same incident. He is scheduled to stand trial in February.
"There is not a doubt in my mind that Allan is a good person," Antonio Scott said at the sentencing hearing. "But we have to be smarter. … I wish we could all take that day back."
Burney's mother, Mildred Burney, asked the judge for leniency.
"I pray to God that you don't sentence my son to life," she told Bulone.
Mildred Burney also apologized to the Scott family and questioned the future.
"I'm very sorry for your loss," Mildred Burney said. "Once we go out those back doors, what are we going to say to each other? Are we going to continue to fuss, cut and fight each other? But I'm tired. I'm very tired. We need to leave here on one accord."
Burney developed the controversial DVD series dubbed Da Hood Gone Wild with childhood friend Cortez Hearns. It chronicled street life in their neighborhood: fights in the middle of the streets, gyrating women in G-strings and police trying to control the pandemonium.
The first DVD was released in the fall of 2007, just before the shootings. Da Hood Gone Wild Volume 2 came out in late 2008.
Burney claimed that he had nothing to do with the October 2007 shooting and though a jury found him guilty, his attorney maintained the same stance Friday in an attempt for a lighter sentence. She asked that Burney be given 25 years in prison.
"There was no testimony that anyone saw my client shooting the weapon," Ngozi C. Acholonu said Friday. "My client did not do the firing, despite the jury's verdict."
But state prosecutors David Tobiassen and Christopher M. LaBruzzo successfully convinced the jury of four women and two men that Burney fired a Mac-11 gun into the car that Michael Scott was driving.
The shooting took place Oct. 8, 2007, about 12:45 p.m. at N Betty Lane and Springdale Street after two groups of young men, who had been feuding for several weeks, got into a fight in a convenience store parking lot.
Tobiassen said Friday that it is time for there to be a realization that the guns being shot are "not toy guns."
"These are real lives being lost and it's got to end," said Tobiassen, who noted that Burney grew up in a stable home with a college-educated mother and supportive family.
Terria Moore, Michael Scott's mother, said there must be change in the community "because the kids are out of control."
But she still wanted justice for her son.
"Make him an example," she said of Allan Burney. "My son didn't die in vain. By taking him (Burney) off the street, a lot of lives were saved. I would like to see him get life in prison without the possibility of parole. I forgive him for what he did, but it won't bring my son back."
On N Betty Lane earlier in the day, Sonny Clarit, 32, swept the hair off his barbershop floor at the shopping plaza where the shooting incident originated.
He knew both Burney and Michael Scott. He even coached Burney in youth football. He said they were both great guys.
"Now they are both gone," Clarit said. "Allan never imagined that when he went to jail, he would be there for the rest of his life."
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4174.