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Teen gets life sentence for deadly shooting over vape pen in southwest Houston

The 19-year-old was only 17 at the time of the crime, so authorities say the death penalty was not an option. The teen was arrested for a deadly shooting at a park.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of capital murder by a jury in Fort Bend County, the district attorney’s office says.

Byron Demonta Coleman, 19, was charged with killing a man in December 2016.

Prosecutors said Coleman, 18-year-old Jeremiah Sanders and a juvenile cousin of Coleman lured Nerbert Frelow to a park in far southwest Houston. The trio claimed they were interested in buying a $70 vape pen from the victim.

“When Frelow and a friend arrived at the park to make the sale, Coleman and his accomplices tried to talk Frelow into giving them a ride to get change,” stated the district attorney’s office.

“When Frelow refused, Sanders pointed a gun at Frelow and his passenger in an attempt to rob them. Frelow pushed the gun away multiple times, so Coleman grabbed the gun from Sanders. Frelow threw the vape pen at Coleman, who then shot Frelow multiple times before running back to his nearby home.”

The victim died at the scene, and prosecutors said Coleman disposed of the weapon by pouring acid on it and throwing it in the bayou behind his home. An accomplice pointed Houston police to the bayou, however, and a dive team was able to recover the weapon about a month later.

Coleman and Sanders first met as teammates on their high school football team. Sanders pleaded guilty to murder and will be sentenced after a hearing on Oct. 15.

The Fort Bend County D.A. says because Coleman was 17 at the time of the offense, he could not receive the death penalty and received an automatic life sentence with the possibility of parole. Parole is not available until 40 years have been served on the life sentence.

Authorities are using the case to remind the public to always meet in a public, safe area when meeting a stranger from the internet to buy or sell goods.