Patterson man pleads to killing friend with baseball bat
A 21-year-old Patterson man, who killed his childhood friend with the single swing of a baseball bat during an argument was sentenced to two years of electronically monitored home incarceration by 16th Judicial District Judge James McClelland.
Bannon Lightsey pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of negligent homicide on Nov. 13.
He was also given a five-year suspended prison sentence and five years of supervised probation at Thursday’s sentencing.
Lightsey had been charged with manslaughter stemming from a Feb. 2, 2012, fight with Cameron Gragg, 19, at the Jessie B. Hayes Boat Landing west of Patterson.
McClelland imposed the sentence after being sent eight letters in support of leniency and mercy for Bannon from his relatives and friends as well as four victim impact statements on behalf of the victim.
Several witnesses who were with both Patterson and Gragg told police Gragg rushed up to Lightsey’s truck attempting to induce Lightsey into fighting with him over an argument the two friends had that began earlier in the day.
Lightsey, along with two females in his truck at the time of the incident and another witness, told police that Lightsey repeatedly told the victim he did not want to fight him, the probable cause affidavit stated. Lightsey and the three witnesses said Gragg struck Lightsey in the face with his fist, at which point Lightsey exited his truck with an aluminum bat and struck his friend a single time and then left as a crowd of Gragg’s friends began to cross the street toward the scene.
Lightsey has gotten married, had a baby and lost both his parents in a June 4, 2013, murder-suicide since the incident. Statements in his support indicate how those events, along with the tragic killing of his friend have shaped his life in the last two years. Statements from the victim’s friends and relatives also paint a picture of the pain they and others have felt since Gragg’s killing.
A friend of the Lightsey family, Alicia Arceneaux, did not believe Lightsey to be a violent person who would kill someone intentionally and said Lightsey has “grown a lot since the incident” and the birth of his son. She asked that Lightsey “be given a chance to make things right for himself and family and mostly for his little boy.”
Lightsey was devastated at his role in his friend’s death and has accepted full responsibility “for a horrible mistake Bannon will have to live with for the rest of his life,” Peggy Young Miller, Lightsey’s great-aunt, said.
Months after the killing of his friend, Lightsey witnessed his father murder his mother in a horror that still devastates the family, Miller said.
“I saw him step up and responsibly attend to the affairs of burying his parents,” Miller wrote.
She asked that his wife and baby son be considered if they are deprived of Lightsey’s income and support if he is sent away to “idleness and exposure to even worse criminality all at the expense of the community and our family.”
The victim’s aunt, Wendy Gragg, spoke of her heartache that “someone felt justified carrying out their anger this way, and he did it with no respect for life, love, family, laughter, or lifetimes of memories that will forevermore be just that — memories.”
Tiffany Bays, a friend of Cameron, said the victim had a way of making everybody happy.
“Now that he is gone, there is a certain emptiness that I feel,” Bays said. “It still hurts knowing that I will never see his smiling face … ever again. It’s not fair that Bannon will have all these things that Cameron will never have.”
Lightsey’s sentence included making himself available to make presentations about his experiences in the criminal justice system. He must also submit and pay for six drug and alcohol screens within the first 18 months of his probation and successfully complete an anger management program.
Lightsey will only be allowed to leave his residence to travel to and from work, counseling, medical treatment and church services.