LAWRENCEVILLE — Shameka Render wore a shawl of deep teal over her pantsuit. A sleeve covered a few of the bracelets — "Nick-Nick's Loud Smile," "I'm A Big Brother," silver charms representing a football helmet and the number 11 — on her right wrist.
She spoke at the podium, addressing the judge and prosecutor more than the man waiting to hear how long he'd be in prison for helping kill her son.
"No matter what the sentencing is," Render said, "it can never bring him back. And I realize that."
Justice, however futile, was administered.
Tuesday afternoon, a Gwinnett County jury found Jason Dozier, 38, guilty of malice murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary and possession of firearm during the commission of a crime. The first of seven suspects to be tried in the case, Dozier was part of the robbing crew that invaded a home on Autry Street last February.
They were seeking the cash proceeds from Nick Jackson I's cocaine trafficking. Nick Jackson II, just 15 years old, was killed in the process.
Tuesday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Tom Davis made sure Dozier would never commit another crime. After delivering a cinema-worthy statement, he sentenced Dozier to two counts of life without parole plus 45 years.
"If this were a civilized world, Nick Jackson would have a long life to look forward to, the opportunity to fall in love, the opportunity to perhaps get married, have children," Davis said, removing his glasses. "The opportunity to grow to be an old man, to have his children and his grandchildren be a comfort to him, as he would have been a comfort to his parents."
"Sometimes this is not a civilized world that we live in," he continued. "And I can't imagine an incident that brings that more harshly into focus than what happened at 310 Autry Street on Feb. 2, 2012. Evil was loose in Norcross that night. And evil did its work."
Dozier fired shots that night — including one the prosecution posited was fired after the fleeing teen — but the fatal bullet has been tied to co-defendant Anthony Lumpkin. Dozier, a four-time convicted felon, was charged as a party to the crime and those charges stuck.
After three full days of testimony, evidence and closing statements, the case was put in the hands of a jury late Monday afternoon. They began deliberating at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday and returned their guilty verdicts shortly before 4 p.m.
Half an hour later, assistant District Attorney Mike Morrison asked for the maximum sentences on each charge. Davis gave it to him.
"It may be simply the luck of the draw that the bullet that killed Nicolas Jackson II was fired by some gun other than the Kel-Tec .380," Davis said, "but nothing in this evidence suggests to me that Mr. Dozier wasn't in there trying his best."
Dozier declined to speak to the judge prior to his sentencing. He was tied to the crime by DNA and a thumbprint found on a handgun recovered during his arrest, as well as the testimony of co-defendant Timothy Johnson.
He reportedly admitted that he "did some shooting" during a jailhouse phone conversation with his father.
His five remaining co-conspirators will face trial next month. Render — alongside a contingent of friends and family that filled two courtroom pews for more than a week — will have to live through her son's murder all over again.
"It's a very very long road and we're exhausted," she said. "We're very tired. But we're forever grateful to God that he showed up and he never left us."