DES MOINES, Iowa - Last week, 17-year-old Terrance Cheeks Jr. was sentenced for his involvement in the brutal carjacking of a Des Moines man.
Cheeks was convicted of two counts of second degree robbery. His father has spoken out for the first time publicly since his son’s arrest.
Terrance Cheeks Sr. says his son does bear some responsibility for what happened. But he says his son does not deserve to be behind bars for the next 50 years.
"He isn't a monster that people… have tried to portray him as. They've tried to build him up as this monstrous kid and he's not that,” Cheeks Sr. told Channel 13.
Cheeks Jr. is one of three teens that car-jacked Mike Wasike in February of 2013. One of those other teens hit Wasike on the back of the head once with a gun causing severe brain damage. Doctors say Wasike will never again be able to walk, talk or hear.
"I know that I wanted probation and I think any parent would have gotten up there and asked the same thing, regardless how bad they felt that he was wrong. You still don't want to see your kid go to prison," Cheeks Sr. said.
“I also told my son, you got to understand, what if I was laying in that street? And he says’Ii know dad. I'm truly sorry for what happened. I wish it hadn't.’"
But it did. Cheeks Sr. agrees his son is partly responsible.
“I told my son, ‘know this isn't what you want to hear but you shouldn't have been there. You made a real, real stupid bad mistake that now Mr. Wasike is suffering from it, his family, we are, you are, you know?’"
Cheeks Sr. says his son played a lesser role in the attack. He didn't have the gun and didn't hit Wasiki so he should not have to serve the same amount of time
"If it was your son you wouldn't say ‘put my son away for 50 ‘years or a hundred years.’ I do believe he deserves some punishment. And I think the punishment that was handed down is sufficient. I don't believe a 17-year-old should be put in jail," Cheeks Sr. said.
"He never touched Mr. Wasike. He never hit him, not one time. And that doesn't say that he shouldn't take any consequences but he's just not that real evil person that he's been painted to look like."
During Cheeks Jr.'s sentencing, the judge said she decided give him a break because of his age. She encouraged him to take advantage of some of the programs offered in prison.