Fort Worth

A 14-year-old Fort Worth girl was sentenced to 25 years for killing her best friend

Bishop Mark Kirkland, friend to the family of the girl who was stabbed, comments about the trial

After the assailant's 25 year sentence was announced, Bishop Mark Kirkland, expresses sorrow for both families
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After the assailant's 25 year sentence was announced, Bishop Mark Kirkland, expresses sorrow for both families

A girl found guilty of murdering her best friend was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday.

Her sentenced was imposed immediately and she will be held in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility, according to Judge Alex Kim, who presided over the case. On or before her 19th birthday, the court will make a determination whether to transfer her to an adult prison or grant her some leniency.

Nylah Lightfoot, 14, died early May 29 after being taken to John Peter Smith Hospital with stab wounds to her neck and chest after a fight at the Sycamore Center Villas apartment complex in south Fort Worth. The friend who killed her has been detained since the stabbing and will receive credit for time served, according to the court.

The murder trial for Lightfoot’ friend began Tuesday. The now 14-year-old was convicted of murder Thursday and could have been sentenced to probation or as much as 40 years in prison, according to prosecutors. The jury took about one hour and 20 minutes to convict the assailant, and one hour and 10 minutes to sentence her.

Lightfoot’s mother, Anntoinette Carter, made a victim’s impact statement before the court shortly after sentence was announced.

“When they told me it was you, it hurt,” Carter told the girl. “You was at my house every day.”

Carter said her daughter wanted to be a makeup artist, and would sneak into her bedroom to get makeup for herself and the girl. But she will never see any of that, Carter said. She will never see her daughter’s prom, never see her high school diploma and never see her wedding, Carter said.

“You spent her last birthday with us,” Carter said, hanging her head in tears. “I don’t know how I come back from this.”

The girl was found not guilty of an aggravated assault allegation, which arose from the teen allegedly swinging a kitchen knife at one of her other friends who tried to stop Lightfoot’s killing, according to the girl’s testimony.

The friend, also 14, grabbed the arm of the assailant who continued to swing the knife around until the friend got scared and let go of her arm, the girl testified earlier this week.

Lightfoot and the girl accused of stabbing her, who is not being identified because she is a minor, started arguing that day and early into the next morning.

The girl testified Wednesday that she moved to Fort Worth from Memphis when she was 12. The assailant and Lightfoot met at school, and their friendship grew into what the girl described as sisterhood.

But like family, the girl testified on Wednesday, they did not always get along.

“I had the same arguments with her that I had with my brother,” she said.

The girl testified later that she would be haunted by her decision.

“Every day, every minute, every second of my life,” she said. “My life will never be the same.”

The assailant’s stepfather, Antonio Kneeland, 33, of Memphis, said he had an idea what might transpire when he saw the jury pool, which was mostly white.

“How could this be considered a fair trial when 91 out of the 98 jurors is a white person,” Kneeland said. “I’ve had people who were not picked for the jury reach out to me and tell me how they feel about this county and how they felt about the Ethan Couch verdict.”

Couch was sentenced to probation after driving drunk in his Ford pickup, and then striking and killing four people in 2013.

“The lawyer just told me whatever number they come up with she’s going to serve some time,” Kneeland said. “I’m hoping they come back with a number like 15-to-20. If they come up with something like 30-to-40 they are trying to send a strong message that this will not be tolerated and we don’t care about rehabilitation.

“They will be making an example out of my daughter.”

Before her 25-year sentence was announced, the assailant's step-father, Antonio Kneeland, talks about his step-daughter facing 40 years in detention. Kneeland's step-daughter was found guilty of murdering her 14-year-old best friend.

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