BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As a child, Derek Deon Henry, Jr. spent a lot of time in the hospital, He was a sickly boy, his mother said. Time and again, she helped nurse him back to health.
Henry grew up believing she could fix anything, Kimberly Parker said. Nevertheless, she found herself helpless to repair the damage done the morning of Sept. 29, 2021.
That was the day 21-year-old Ethan Jermaine Smith, apparently motivated by jealousy, fired through the windshield of a Chevy Tahoe occupied by Henry. He died at the scene.
Henry was an acquaintance of Smith’s girlfriend, Parker said.
On Wednesday, Smith was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, plus 10 years. He pleaded no contest last month to second-degree murder.
It’s not enough, Parker told the court. Her son is gone forever, she said, so Smith should never have an opportunity at freedom.
“This is not fair,” she told the court, her voice trembling. “It’s not fair.”
According to police reports, Smith shot Henry during a confrontation in an alley on Soranno Avenue in southwest Bakersfield. He told police he acted in self-defense.
Smith’s girlfriend, however, told investigators he didn’t like her hanging out with Henry. She said he had threatened to assault him, according to the reports.
Smith was arrested the night of the shooting when police conducting surveillance saw him jump from one roof to the next as he made his way to his apartment, according to the reports.
Henry worked two jobs, started his own business and had four children, Parker said. He lived a good life, she said, and was committed to doing what he could to help others.
“My son deserved to live,” she said. “He didn’t deserve to die at 30 years old.”
Junique Thompson, mother of Henry’s children, said they were high school sweethearts and best friends. She agreed Smith should never be released.
“He deserves to be under the jailhouse with all the rats and the busted pipes,” she said.