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Man sentenced to decades in prison for murder of Michigan State student

February 19, 2020
<p>An East Lansing police car, photographed on Aug. 23, 2019. </p>

An East Lansing police car, photographed on Aug. 23, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

Steven Washington was sentenced to approximately 28 to 41 years in prison, with an additional two years for felony gun possession, at Veteran’s Memorial Courthouse on Wednesday for the murder of Michigan State student Isai Berrones.

Berrones, 22, was studying food science in his senior year at MSU.

According to Ingham County court records, a jury found Washington guilty of murder in the second degree, carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a weapon while committing a felony during his trial Dec. 17, 2019. 

These charges stem from an incident in which the East Lansing Police Department responded to a report of fighting and gunshots on Oct. 12, 2018. Berrones was found wounded upon arrival and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bill Crino, reflected on the unimaginable tragedy the Berrones family has sustained. 

“Isai Berrones was only 22 years old. He was, by everyone’s account, a very kind and gentle young man with a bright future ahead of him,” Crino said. “He had his entire life before him and in an instant, his life was taken from him.”

During the prosecution, the Barrones family submitted letters on the impact this tragedy has had on them. His parents, Miguel and Irma Barrones, were present at the sentencing, though remained too distraught and emotional to speak to the court. Crino argued the only thing the people could add at this point was that this was a senseless act.

“There was no reason that this defendant ... needed to bring an illegal concealed gun with a bullet in the chamber to this incident. There was no reason that this defendant needed to point that weapon and fire it into Isai Berrones’ body and senselessly kill a 22-year-old boy over nothing. And there was no reason that this defendant needed to — almost literally — step over Isai’s body and flee from the scene,” Crino said. “It shows such extreme callousness and disregard for human life.”

Washington’s defense attorney, Toby White, argued that Washington was not the one responsible for the shooting. 

“There is no consoling, there is no bringing back, there is no way to even describe the pain the family is going through,” White said. “However, Mr. Washington maintains … that he is not the person who shot this young man. He is not the one who created this tragedy.”

Fellow inmates of Washington drafted a letter presented to the court, expressing their experience with him as a caring, down-to-earth man who lets his intellect rule his emotions.

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady III recognized the tragedy of the situation, and acknowledged his belief that Washington likely didn’t go into the situation with the intent to kill. 

“It appears probably you were along for the ride originally, ... but once you got there, things went down and Mr. Barrones ended up being killed,” Canady said.

Washington said he never intended for things to happen how they did. 

“I didn’t come here to hurt no one, I came here to start a new life,” Washington said.

In addition to the 27 to 41 years in prison, Washington is also responsible for $14,000 in restitution to Barrones’ parents for funeral and burial expenses.

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