The courtroom was hushed Tuesday morning as Deborah Jencsok quietly told Judge Warren Granville what it meant to lose her husband to a drive-by shooting.
“My husband was a good man,” she said through tears. “He was not only my husband but my best friend. No one should ever be killed in their own home or watch someone they love die.”
But that’s exactly what she experienced on Aug. 22, 2006, when teens in a car were looking for a few quick bucks from an armed robbery or home invasion, police said. The teens saw 47-year-old Michael Jencsok standing in the driveway of his home in the 5000 block of East Paseo Way and, thinking he was on the phone to police, shot him in the back.
The trigger man, Deon Powell, now 20, is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
On Tuesday, Granville was about to sentence Andre McKee, now 19, who had confessed to second-degree murder as an accomplice.
But before sentencing, his family and friends spoke, arguing that McKee was a good person and had simply gotten wrapped up with the wrong crowd.
“As you get older you start hanging out with the wrong crowd, you see money, you see fast cars, but you just don’t know what you will have to pay for it,” said his friend Kevin Jordan. “He’s a good kid.”
McKee’s attorney asked for leniency, explaining that her client was a homeless 16-year-old at the time, addicted to drugs and deeply shocked by witnessing the murder.
But prosecutors asked for 22 years, the maximum, pointing out that McKee continued his life of crime, found a month later in possession of a gun and was arrested a year later for a drug charge, while also armed, and that he has shown no remorse over the shooting.
McKee spoke quietly on his own behalf, saying that what happened was out of his control and that he was sorry.
Granville sentenced McKee to 17 years in prison, saying “This was a stupid, reckless, senseless thing to do.”
The last of the quartet in the car that night, Michael Morton, now 19, also was scheduled to be sentenced in a different courtroom, but refused to be transported from the jail to the Maricopa County Superior Court in downtown Phoenix.
His sentencing will be rescheduled in the next few weeks.
Police said that McKee, Powell, Morton and 21-year-old Jessica Zambrano, were driving through Ahwatukee Foothills looking for a target to rob.
When they saw Michael Jencsok standing in his driveway that evening they planned to rob him until they saw he was on the phone.
He was shot once with a .22-caliber handgun and died on his kitchen floor as his wife tried to perform CPR while waiting for police and firefighters to arrive.
Zambrano is serving a 10-and-a-half-year sentence in prison for her role in the murder.