CROWN POINT — A mother stared hard at her son's killer Thursday and said she forgave him.
Lashunn Golida, the mother of Jonquell Golida, said she needed to forgive Nicholas Pelissier for her son's murder — the stress of his death made her ill.
“My child wanted to live, but you took his life,” she said. “But I forgive you, with all my heart.”
Pelissier, 20, of Chicago, was convicted at trial last month of murder and attempted murder in the shooting Nov. 12, 2016, that killed Golida, 23, of Gary, and wounded Timothy Fryerson.
The shooting, which occurred near 49th Avenue and Massachusetts Street in Gary, was prompted by angry words exchanged at a gas station, according to court testimony.
William “Buddha” Galloway, 25, of Gary, is also charged with murder and attempted murder in the shooting.
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Lashunn Golida lamented that an entire generation grew up thinking it was normal for mothers to lose their sons to gun violence. She said she was part of a club she never wanted to join.
“It never gets less painful,” she said. “You only get used to the weight.”
Pelissier was 18 when he shot Golida. He had no prior criminal record, though he was twice found delinquent as a juvenile, according to defense attorney Angela Jones.
Pelissier's sister, Alexandra Elias, said her brother was a good man who “chose the wrong crowd.” She said her brother once rescued a police officer from a squad car that overturned in his Chicago neighborhood.
She said her brother was raised without a father, and suffered from bipolar disorder. She feared what would happen to Pelissier's three sons, who will be raised without their father.
Pelissier said he was a man and needed to take responsibility for his actions, but denied shooting Golida and Fryerson. He seemed to admit he was with Galloway when it happened, though.
“I'm guilty of something, but not for what I'm charged,” he said.
He pointed out the witnesses in the case never identified him in a lineup as a shooter, and scoffed at claims he was the shooter identified by witnesses as “Freaky.”
“To be honest, I would never let anyone call me Freaky,” he said.
Judge Salvador Vasquez told Pelissier he had a right to appeal his conviction, but he would honor the verdict.
He said he imagined while the defendant spoke what a promising life he could have had. Pelissier was well-spoken, and clearly “had a brain,” the judge said, but made the wrong decisions.
Vasquez sentenced Pelissier to 85 years in prison for the murder and attempted murder.
Lashunn Golida said after the court hearing her son already had a brush with death before his murder.
Jonquell Golida was one of the children injured in June 1998 when a daycare bus operated by Nurseryland Foundation crashed in Gary. His friend, 4-year-old Joseph Wright, was killed in the crash.
Lashunn Golida said each year she put an extra candle on her son's birthday cake, to represent life. That tradition ended with her son's death.
“All he wanted to do after that accident was live,” she said. “That's all he wanted.”