(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Monday morning, emotions flooded a Buchanan County courtroom as Raelynn Craig's family confronted one of their daughter's killers for the first time in a sentencing hearing.
21-year-old Marcain Kimbrough-Ballard was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the murder of the 2-year-old little girl who was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Midtown last summer.
“No one should ever have to shop for their child’s last dress, the dress she’ll be buried in,” Raelynn's father, Antwoin Craig, wrote in a personal testimony letter read aloud by Michelle Davidson, an assistant prosecuting attorney for Buchanan County.
Craig was overwhelmed by sorrow throughout the hearing, rushing out of the courtroom several times. The father did not hold back on Kimbrough-Ballard in court, expressing his anger with strong physical and verbal gestures. Shortly after the outburst, Kimbrough-Ballard answered for his crime.
Choking back tears, he gave an emotional testimony that filled the courtroom with tears.
“I wish I could go back, but unfortunately that’s not how time works. What I would like the court to know is that I loved that little girl. She was smart and beautiful just like her mother and it kills me everyday to know that I am the reason she is gone,” said Marcain Kimbrough-Ballard, pleaded guilty to second degree murder in death of Raelynn Craig.
The loss too much for Raelynn's mother, Tyra Rich, to even speak at court. Davidson read the mother's personal statement aloud for Rich.
“I will never get to hold her again. I will never get to see her smiling face, her big beautiful eyes or hear the sound of her sweet voice, her amazing voice. My life was also ending right then and there. The life I dreamed of her was taken,” Rich wrote.
Raelynn's mother was also shot three times on August 9th. Prosecutors show pictures of Rich's gunshot wounds as well as a homemade video showing Raelynn swinging on a swing and kissing her mom.
Prosecutors asked Judge Daniel Kellogg to sentence Kimbrough-Ballard to life in prison. Judge Kellogg sentenced the 21-year-old to 26 years in prison. Kimbrough-Ballard will remain behind bars until he is 47-years-old.
“I know that can never be enough for the pain that I’ve caused, but I am here to accept responsibility and hopefully provide any peace that I can,” said Kimbrough-Ballard.
Kimbrough-Ballard's mother and younger brother appeared in court Monday morning. Both family members read personal statements, pleading with the judge to show mercy.
Two other suspects also face second degree murder charges in the shooting. Caimon Ramone Stillman has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on April 23rd. Te'Avion Hawkins will appear in court April 27th for a date to set his trial.