OMAHA — Makhi Woolridge-Jones was 16 years old when he fatally shot 21-year-old Trequez Swift at Westroads Mall, sending other shoppers fleeing.
Woolridge-Jones, now 17, will be in his 50s when he's first eligible to be released from prison.
Monday, Douglas County District Judge James Masteller sentenced Woolridge-Jones to 35 to 55 years in actual time. Counting time he already has served, Woolridge-Jones would have to be released in 2076.
A jury in September deliberated for two days, finding Woolridge-Jones guilty of second-degree murder, two firearms charges and second-degree assault in the April 17, 2021, shooting.
Prosecutors initially charged Woolridge-Jones with first-degree murder, but the jury decided he had not acted with premeditation, which under Nebraska law can occur up until seconds before a violent act but not simultaneously.
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Woolridge-Jones went to the mall with his brother, Brandon Woolridge-Jones, and their 13-year-old friend.
Swift had been shopping for an outfit to wear to a friend's memorial service with his friend, 21-year-old Marvell Piggie.
The groups had confrontations at a clothing store and in line at a pretzel stand.
After Swift and Piggie left the pretzel stand, Woolridge-Jones, his brother and the boy followed.
A man who was in the hallway on a massage chair with his toddler daughter and infant testified that he heard Woolridge-Jones and his friend talk louder, telling Swift, "Let's go outside."
Swift set a shopping bag on the floor and turned toward Woolridge-Jones. Woolridge-Jones shot him, then went to stand over Swift's body to "finish the job," prosecutor Ann Miller said at trial.
Swift kicked the gun and was able to run away, but Woolridge-Jones grabbed the dislodged magazine and followed, firing another two shots.
Swift was hit in his lower back and left buttocks. He died three hours later.
Piggie fired three shots after Woolridge-Jones finished shooting, but Piggie’s shots didn’t hit anyone.
Piggie was convicted in February of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and was sentenced to 13 to 17 years in prison.
Woolridge-Jones’ older brother Brandon, now 19, faces a charge of accessory to a felony and is awaiting trial.