TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Troy man who admitted to pulling the trigger in the fatal shooting of his own brother was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison. Prior to the judge handing down her sentence, Jatae Gourrier-Lewis apologized to his family and asked for leniency saying the shooting was not intentional.
Gourrier-Lewis was arrested in February 2022 for the fatal shooting of his younger 16-year-old brother Jaylen Gourrier-Lewis following reports of a domestic disturbance. Police said when they arrived to assess the scene, Gourrier-Lewis had fled on foot. Police caught up to him shortly afterward and arrested him. The Troy man accepted a plea deal on a manslaughter charge that came with a 15 to 20-year prison term.
In court on Monday, Assistant Rensselaer County District Attorney Cheryl Botts claimed that there was little evidence that Gourrier-Lewis had truly accepted responsibility for the shooting and requested that Hon. Debra Young use her discretion and sentence him to 25 years. Eric Galarneau, Gourrier’s attorney asked for 15 years, saying Jatae and Jaylen loved one another and that the shooting was an accident and lacked malice.
The defendant’s mother and grandmother both spoke in court about the tragic circumstances that have left their family heartbroken. At times they spoke directly to Gourrier-Lewis, telling him they loved him. When the judge asked Gourrier-Lewis if he wished to speak, he addressed the court saying, “I want to say I am sorry to my mother, my siblings and my family for the actions that lead to me being here today. I know the charges are on intent, but this wasn’t an intentional crime. This was a truthful accident.”
He added that while being held in jail for the past year, he had time to reflect on what happened that night, and that he has suffered from terrible nightmares. “I wish things were different that night. I know they are saying that was a fight over a gun, but I didn’t want to give my brother a gun, I didn’t want to see my brother living that life. That’s what the fight occurred from. Me not wanting to see my little brother with a gun, and a fight happened.” Gourrier-Lewis repeated again that he never wanted to harm his brother.
Then it was up to Judge Young to hand down her sentence. “Here we had a young man with guns and a willingness to use those guns against a member of his own family, someone who has been described as his favorite brother,” she said. The judge also pointed to the evidence of shell casings on a porch at the scene. “Notably there were no shell casings found around the victim,” she added. “We also know that the defendant shot the victim in the head with such precision that it cannot be said that it was accidental.” She said the court was charged with making sure that society is being protected and to that end she was sentencing the defendant to 20 years in prison.
Outside the courtroom, Jatae’s grandmother Betty Gourrier told News10’s Anya Tucker that there were other people on the scene the night of the shooting and she feels they should have also been charged. She said her grandson had been under the influence of drugs and she and the family firmly believe he never intended to harm his little brother.