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Man gets 50 years for killing high school classmate during pickup football game

Jaqwaun Glenn Pradia was sentenced to 50 years in prison for killing Eric Demetris Willis at Atascocita High School in 2020.
Credit: KHOU
Eric Demetris Willis (L) and Jaqwaun Glenn Pradia (R)

HOUSTON — A Houston man was sentenced to 50 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of murder last week.

Jaqwaun Glenn Pradia, 22, will have to serve at least half of his sentence before he's eligible for parole. The jury took a week to return a conviction and issue the sentence.

The killing

On March 15, 2020, a group of friends met up at Atascocita High School to play a pickup game of 7-on-7.

Eric Demetris Willis was 19 at the time. He showed up to play along with several of his high school friends, who were former students at Atascocita HS.

Around 10:45 a.m., Pradia, who was 20 at the time, jumped out of a vehicle in the parking lot and charged the field. He shot Willis at least four times and then left the scene.

"Far too often we see disagreements, arguments and fights escalate into murders because someone wants to start shooting," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. "This young man had a promising future -- he had just signed with a university to go play football -- and his life was ended in an instant because of a gun. We work hard every day not just to get justice for the families, but to try to end gun violence."

Multiple people at the scene identified Pradia as the shooter.

Unknown motive

Pradia testified at his own trial but didn't tell jurors why he killed Willis.

The motive behind the murder might never be known but prosecutors think it could have stemmed from things that happened while they were both in high school.

"It may have been things that happened while they were in high school, and it was probably just one-sided, but we’ll probably never really know the reason," Assistant District Attorney Amanda Benavides said. "The defendant had the opportunity to explain this senseless killing when he testified, and he didn’t."

Pradia was convicted on Thursday, which was the fourth anniversary of Willis’ high school graduation.

Bright future

After graduating high school, Willis spent a year playing wide receiver at a junior college. He was planning on playing at a university in Oklahoma the following fall.

"He was supposed to have a career, a family and great life, but none of that will happen now because of what the defendant did," Benavides said.

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