INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The man convicted of two counts of armed criminal action for the January 2012 shooting inside Independence Center has been sentenced to a total of 64 years in prison.
A Jackson County, Mo., judge sentenced Eric D. Bratton, 25, to 25 years on each of the two counts of armed criminal action and seven years on each of two other assault counts. The judge ordered the sentences to run consecutively rather than concurrently, a distinction they corrected in an email to Kansas City media.
A jury convicted Bratton in January 2013. Bratton opened fire inside Independence Center after a verbal altercation with a young couple. In court, one shooting victim said he felt a bullet whiz by his head.
“I seen the first bullet hit Rochelle [Moore] in the foot,” Dillon Yates, victim, said during court testimony in January. “It kind of happened in slow motion. I guess the second one hit me in the thigh. I really didn’t know I was shot until I got into Forever 21. I ducked to grab Rochelle and the third one I felt the wind whiz by my face.”
In court on Thursday, Bratton took the stand an apologized for his actions.
"I could have thought before I acted, but the situation, I can't change it," he said. "It is what it is and I've learned from it, I've bettered myself for it. I made a mistake. I'm not perfect, but I've learned from it."
Yates told the judge in a letter he still suffers from stress. Victim Rochelle Moore told the court she has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"January 14th, 2012 was the scariest day of my life," Moore said. "I'll never forget it. It's a mental image I will never be able to delete. I went to the mall that day thinking nothing was going to happen. I didn't expect to get hit. I didn't expect to get shot. My life changed forever and I wasn't ready for it."
The defense had asked for a sentence of seven years, but the judge said he had to consider public safety and what could have happened in the busy shopping center on the day of the shooting.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she's still concerned the weapon used in the shooting has never been recovered.
"I really believe Eric's weakness was the people he hung around with. That was his weakness and I always told my son to watch his fellowship because bad company always spoils good manners," his mother, Reesa Bratton said.
For his crimes, Bratton could have been sentenced to life in prison.