Christmas Eve mall killer sentenced

By Chuck Weber - bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - It was almost exactly three years ago when a man was murdered at the crowded Boynton Beach Mall on Christmas Eve. Wednesday in a West Palm Beach courtroom, the man convicted of the killing, Wilson Pierre, faced sentencing.

At trial the jury ruled there was no premeditation in the death of 23-year-old Berno Charlemond, so they convicted Pierre of the lesser charge of second degree murder. Prosecutors asked for life in prison. Pierre's lawyer sought the minimum possible -- 25 years.

An undercover detective testified, playing a gang video from YouTube. On it one can see Pierre who, the detective says, goes by the gang nickname of "Nature."

"Listen, pay attention," Pierre raps in the video. "Nature on a mission, killing competition."

The detective also played a song, where he says you can hear Pierre threatening retaliation on a rival gang, the one to which Charlemond belonged.

When Judge John Kastrenakis pronounced his sentence, he said the gang connected carried little weight. The judge said while Charlemond was in fact chasing Pierre when Pierre fired, a life was taken. And Kastrenakis maintained firing a gun at a mall put hundreds of innocent people at risk. He gave Pierre 40 years in prison, with no chance of early release.

"It wasn't a gang," said Latasha Russ, who identified herself as an ex-girlfriend of Pierre's. "I believe people just listen to lyrics and words, whatever, and think it's a gang."

Russ asserted Pierre was not guilty, and said she place her hope in the appeal process. Russ and Pierre's lawyer, Peter Grable, said there were problems with the identification of the shooter. Another man, who had also been identified as the potential culprit, was later shot and killed.