DECATUR AL (WAFF) - There was an emotional plea in the courtroom Wednesday as a Morgan County mother asked the judge to give one of the men convicted in her son’s murder the maximum prison sentence.
And the judge granted that request, taking into account the defendant’s long criminal history.
Charles Makekau, 29, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson for the June 2013 killing of James “Jamie” Patrick Travers II, 21.
During the hearing, the victim’s mother, Rebecca Travers, had harsh words for Makekau, who was her son’s roommate. He set up the deadly home invasion that claimed Travers' life and she called Makekau a “coward, evil monster, liar and con artist.”
Makekau was recently convicted in a trial of felony murder in the case. He gave the security code to the house where he lived with the victim to two other men so they could steal money. He was shot and killed as he tried to run away.
The victim’s mother wore “Justice for Jamie” jewelry as she told the judge about the devastating impact the loss of her son has had on their family.
“I just want justice for Jamie. I have said that there’s really no justice when your child is murdered because he’s not standing here today beside me. But I feel like I got him the best justice I possibly could in this case. He took this guy into his home. He bought him clothes and food and watched him child for him. He let him drive his car and this is what he got,” Rebecca Travers said after the sentencing hearing.
Mackekau thanked his relatives for their support as he left the courthouse. He apologized to the Travers family and told them that he is a changed man 5.5 years after the crime, having turned to his faith.
The judge told him that life in prison without the chance of parole was the appropriate sentence because of the “path of destruction he’s laid,” with eight prior felony convictions and a long juvenile record before that.
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Makekau laughed and smiled as he came to the courthouse and after learning his fate in prison.
He has 42 days to appeal.
The other two men convicted in the crime- Dewayne Hicks and Ryan Caudle- are both serving life sentences.
Elizabeth Grace Allen, Makekau’s girlfriend, spoke after the hearing and reacted to the sentence he received.
“We kind of felt like this was going to happen. It’s heartbreaking and sad all the way around. Jamie was one of my dear friends. It’s just hard," she said. “Now his best friend is dead and that’s something you that you don’t get to come back from.”
She says Makekau set it up to be a burglary, when no one would be home at the house where they lived on Highway 31 in Decatur.
“Don’t misunderstand the things that were said in court and think that he doesn’t suffer from this because he does. He does daily. He’s a good man. It’s so sad. One bad choice is all it takes and that’s your life. There is it. He’ll make the best out of it. He’ll become a preacher at the prison or we’ll appeal. Something will come through,” Allen added.
Prosecutors said a pretrial investigation recommended that Makekau receive the same sentence as Caudle and Hicks, but they did not think that was appropriate because he was the “instigator” and because his criminal history was much worse than the other two with multiple juvenile cases dating back to 2003, including assault, domestic and criminal mischief.
“He has shown that he has no place as a free man in this community, state or anywhere else,” the prosecutor told the judge.
Rebecca and William Travers stood before the judge and talked about how Jamie brought them joy and laughter and left them with great memories. They explained how they are still suffering in the wake of his death.
“Charles, your actions played a major role in taking Jamie from our hearts and lives. You planned the robbery that resulted in his murder. You gave the other two access to his home and he died alone and scared. He was beaten and then shot in the back...You were the roommate from hell,” Rebecca Travers told Makekau in court.
“I wanted him to understand what Charles took from us. Charles was supposed to be a roommate,” she added after the hearing. “I wanted the judge to understand that I didn’t want any other family to be impacted.”
She said her daughter has a son who is now 12 and cannot sleep by himself because of what happened to his uncle. Her other son became a combat medic in order to save lives because his brother was murdered and he wants to make a difference.
Makekau’s attorney produced several character witnesses, including several ministers from the jail who testified that they have noticed his progression and involvement in classes.
The defense asked for leniency, pointing out that Makekau has already been in jail for several years and he’s realized the consequences of his actions.
Makekau also addressed the court, telling the victim’s family that they have “no clue” who he is now as a person.
“I do deserve to be punished, but I’ve grown. I study and pray for all of you... I’m really sorry about what happened to Jamie,” he stated.
Judge Thompson dealt with all three cases for the defendants in the case.
He told Makekau that he never took advantage of any opportunity to turn his life around after his previous crimes.
“I’m a man of faith, but I also understand the law. Habitual offender applies to you,” the judge said.
Rebecca Travers said Makekau’s sentence “suits what he did," considering his criminal background.
“He can be saved and he can be sorry but he still has to pay for his actions and what he took from us. I feel like we all have a choice in this world and we can do something better with our lives or something worse. If Charles wants to do something better, then he can do it in jail with the people there because that’s where he belongs,” she added.