WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Superior Court Judge David Hall sentenced Jon Adams to 20 to 25 years in an adult correctional facility for the death of his grandfather, Clarence Nelson Parrish.
Adams, 15, pleaded guilty in a plea arrangement with the state, reducing the charge from first to second-degree murder for the death of Parrish on Oct. 18, 2014 at his home on Greenview Drive in Kernersville.
Judge Hall called the crime "ghastly" and said it is "probably the most polite word I could have used to describe the crime."
Adams will begin his sentence immediately at the Forsyth County juvenile detention center until Judge Hall finds a facility "suitable for his age."
In his sentencing, Hall also wants Adams to get a psychiatric exam and receive treatment according to doctors’ orders, counseling for youth offenders, as well as GED and vocational training while incarcerated.
Before sentencing, Hall gave Adams an opportunity to speak for himself. Adams cried and stuttered as he explained the "mistake" he made last year.
"I can't describe how sorry I am. I regret it every day. If I could go back to the date, I'd take it back. It was flat, horrible, so wrong. I take full responsibility. There's nothing I can do to bring him back, but I will do everything to make myself a better person."
Prosecutors Jim O'Neal and Brian Taylor went into full detail of the autopsy and detective findings from that night nearly nine months ago.
Medical Examiner Dr. Jerri McLemore determined Parrish died of blunt force trauma injuries to the head.
McLemore's notes indicated Parrish was struck up to seven times with a shovel but that it was difficult to determine how many because of the number of lacerations to the skull. There were also three stab wounds to the back. A knife handle was found in the trash along with beer cans.
Taylor said Adams confessed he had killed his grandfather because his mother was struggling financially and thought he would inherit the money.
Yet, Attorney Taylor said Adams first told investigators he had nothing to do with the crime and then that a neighbor forced him to killed his grandfather.
Following what Judge Hall called a "repeated attack," Adams hid the body in a nearby wooded area and invited friends over to Parrish's home to a party with alcohol.
When friends asked Adams what the blood on the driveway was from, he said his grandfather had killed a deer.
To date, the cellphone and shoes of Parrish have not been found.
Defense attorney's Nils Gerber and Stephen Ball called Adams' mother Loretta Adams and Pamela Parrish, Adams' aunt, to the stand.
Adams' mother said the family is "torn" and has been for the past eight months.
"I don't know what was going on in his head that day," Loretta Adams said. "That day I didn't just lose a dad I lost my son."
She said Jon Adams was a good kid and a frat soccer player, already getting calls from colleges about scholarships.
Loretta said her father taught her son everything he knew and was a great father figure in his life.
Jon Adams' father left the family when Adams was 4 years old and hasn't been seen since.
Pamela Parrish said that Jon was a good kid and had a good relationship with his grandfather.
Parrish said many outsiders may ask how she can defend Adams for the death of her father.
"The answer is simple, I love them the same," Parrish said. "We cannot bring my dad back, but we can help save Jon."
Both Adams’ mother and aunt asked the court and Judge Hall for leniency for Adams so he will have time to better himself in society as an adult.
Several family members and friends showed up in court Monday to support Adams. None chose to comment on camera.
Judge Hall praised attorneys Ball and Gerber for their "heroic efforts in defending the indefensible."
Hall said he made his decision without much reflection and questioned if Adams could kill the way he did to someone he loved, "What would he do to a stranger?"