DALLAS -- Ten current and former high school students, including five members of Dallas Carter's Class 5A championship football team, were sentenced to prison terms Friday by a judge who told them, 'If stupidity were a crime, you would all deserve life without parole.'
Among those sentenced by state District Judge Joe Kendall were Parade magazine All-American defensive back Derric Evans, who was sentenced to 20 years on each of four armed robbery counts, and running back-defensive back Gary Edwards, who received three 16-year terms.
The sentences were handed down before a courtroom packed with relatives of the 12 defendants, one of whom received a deferred sentence and one of whom was sent to a Texas Department of Corrections 'boot camp' for 75 days.
Hundreds of friends and relatives of the defendants wedged into a corridor outside the courtroom, and several began screaming and throwing their hands into the air after the sentences were announced. The defendants were hustled from the courtroom by sheriff's deputies and did not comment.
Kendall, a former Dallas County prosecutor, lectured the 12 teenagers for 10 minutes before sentencing them for a string of 21 armed robberies committed last spring. He noted the 21 holdups were more than those attributed to Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who terrorized the South during the 1930s.
'If stupidity were a crime, you would all deserve life without parole,' Kendall said. 'Most of you have had religious and moral training, the opportunity for a decent education, and some of you have even been given by God athletic talent that would enable you to receive a free college education.
'When I compare you with a typical young offender who comes before me, you are especially without excuse,' Kendall added. '... Despite all the public attention, you are nothing but a bunch of crimnials who went out, put guns on honest working people, terrified them and took their money.'
Noting that six of the defendants were members of a Carter football team that experts rank as one of the best in Texas of the 1980s, Kendall said, 'The typical American male lives vicariously ... through the lives of football heroes. However, when it comes to violating the law, at the courthouse it simply doesn't matter than you can run the football.'
Most prominent among those sentenced were Evans, who was picked by UPI as one of the nation's top 100 college football prospects last spring and signed with the University of Tennessee, and Edwards, the center of a grading controversy that almost cost Carter its chance at the 5A playoffs last season. He signed with the University of Houston.
represented Evans, said they were shocked by the stiff sentences.
'Instead of these young men getting a college education, they will get an education from the TDC,' West said. 'I do not know anybody who has gone off to TDC who has come back and become a productive citizen.'
Reporters noted that another Dallas high school star in the early 1980s, Charles Washington, had his college career interrupted by a prison sentence but went on to graduate from college and be drafted by the Indianapolis Colts last spring.
'But he (Washington) got six months,' Creuzot said. 'Derrick got five years.'