CLEVELAND, Ohio — Tony Farmer, a onetime star of Garfield Heights' high school basketball team, crumpled into the arms of a sheriff's deputy Tuesday, moments after Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Pamela Barker began sentencing him to prison.
The 18-year-old Farmer, who would have been a senior this fall and ranked as one of the top 100 high school basketball players in the nation, was hoping for probation. Instead, Barker sent him away for a total of three years for kidnapping, felonious assault and other crimes.
Cries of anguish erupted from the gallery as Farmer, wearing orange jail garb, his hands cuffed behind his back, dropped to the floor.
Nearly two dozen spectators, including friends, family and former teachers, had packed the courtroom for the emotional hearing. Among them was Farmer's ex-girlfriend Andrea Lane, 18, who he admitted attacking last April after she didn't want to reconcile their relationship.
Lane asked Barker not to sentence Farmer to prison, but made it clear she wanted no contact with him.
"I know he was a good person," she said. "I hope he still is."
Lane, who had been sobbing, bolted from the courtroom as Barker began reading the sentence, as did Farmer's mother, Michele, who had moments before asked Barker to spare her son from going to prison.
Michele Farmer described her son as a young man who had been in love and "made a bad decision."
Farmer pleaded guilty in July to kidnapping, felonious assault, robbery and intimidating a victim stemming from his altercation last April with Lane in the lobby and parking lot of her apartment complex in Bedford Heights.
Much of the incident was caught on videotape inside the apartment building.
At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Sonny Johnson, the varsity basketball coach at Garfield Heights High School, told Barker that Farmer understood the seriousness of what he did.
"If you give him a chance, he's in good hands," Johnson told the judge.
Two of Farmer's former teachers also spoke, including Joni Wanderstock.
"Instead of his massive height," said Wanderstock, who taught English to the 6-foot-7-inch Farmer, "I see his massive heart."
When it came time for Farmer to speak, he turned and faced the gallery, apologizing to Lane, her family and to his family.
He then told the judge, "I'm really not a bad kid," and asked for the chance to finish his senior year in high school so he could earn a basketball scholarship.
But Barker reminded him that the security video from the apartment building shows him kicking Lane in the head as she cowers in a corner.
"You can see the fear on her face," the judge said.
Barker said she would review Farmer's sentence after 180 days.
But that didn't seem like much consolation for Farmer's mother.
"I was hoping my son was coming home today," Michele Farmer said, "and he's not."
In: Regional News
Tags: tony farmer, high scoo; bsketball star, three years in jail, loser, criminal
Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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