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“I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me:” Mother relieved after man found guilty of killing her 14-year-old son in 2016

“I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me:” Mother relived after man found guilty of killing her 14-year-old son in 2016
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 11:37 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A jury found a man guilty of murder in the shooting death of a 14-year-old in 2016.

Exactly 2,300 days have passed since Aljhean Williams was shot and killed while walking home from a friend’s house in Wilmington on Jan. 3, 2016.

More than four years passed before police charged Cedric Alden Burnett with first-degree murder in the shooting of Williams. He was arrested in January of 2020.

After a weeks-long trial, the jury delivered its verdict just before noon Thursday.

Burnett was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me,” said Portia Williams, Aljhean’s mother. “Just the feeling of knowing that someone took my son or anybody’s son’s life and is just walking free, just the feeling that, you know, justice has been served.”

Even though more than six years have passed since Williams last saw her son, she says she’s heard Aljhean’s voice every day in the search for justice.

“I think his spirit was telling me during this whole process, “Mom, just be patient. Just be patient,” and that’s what allowed me to hold on for so long because I knew it was coming,” Williams said.

The Williams family now wants to move forward on a journey of healing. Part of that journey, they say, is a message for the community.

“I just encouraged the community to not take matters into their own hands,” Williams said. “To just wait on the justice system. Do whatever you can, if you see something, say something.”

That sense of community support is something leaders say begins with trust in each other and in the justice system.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do right now is to not just get justice here in the courthouse, but talk about the importance of building trust in our community,” said District Attorney Ben David. “There’s a lot of ways that we’re doing that. I believe that the biggest thing is getting justice in individual cases.”

Williams also said Aljhean loved his family and was a compassionate person. She hopes his life will not be forgotten.

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