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Man sentenced to life in fatal 2012 shooting of childhood friend

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Gloria D. Weathersby, mother of Keosha Gilmore, read her victim-impact statement at Christopher Jackson’s sentencing.
Gloria D. Weathersby, mother of Keosha Gilmore, read her victim-impact statement at Christopher Jackson’s sentencing.Faith Ninivaggi/POOL

More than four years after her only daughter was shot to death on a Mattapan street, Gloria D. Weathersby said Tuesday that the lives of her surviving children and of her entire family have been wracked by grief.

"Myself and my family still deal with fear, depression, panic attacks. We deal with self-blaming,'' she said in Suffolk Superior Court. "Hopelessness. Fatigue. Nightmares. Mood swings. And for the first time in my life, I am filled with hopelessness. I personally have not slept a full night since she died.''

Weathersby spoke shortly before Suffolk Superior Court Judge Raffi N. Yessayan sentenced 29-year-old Christopher Jackson for his second-degree murder conviction for shooting Keosha Gilmore, a childhood friend of Jackson's who declined his romantic interest in her.

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Gilmore, 25, was shot in the head while sitting in the front seat of her then-boyfriend's Cadillac on Feb. 19, 2012, a murder that went unsolved until Boston police were tipped off by Gilmore's relatives to look into Jackson after Fox 25 profiled her unsolved death, relatives said Tuesday.

Jackson was arrested in 2013 and confessed to police detectives. At trial, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley's office argued that he should be convicted of first-degree murder for planning the attack on Gilmore in advance.

However, defense attorney Kevin Mitchell argued Jackson was a special needs student during his childhood whose mental status made it impossible for him to meet the legal threshold for a premeditated crime. Jurors convicted Jackson of the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Yessayan sentenced Jackson to the mandatory life in prison with parole eligibility in 15 years and to have illegal gun-possession charges sentences run concurrently, a sentence endorsed by Conley's office.

Weathersby was one of a handful of relatives and friends who delivered victim impact statements Tuesday. Her husband, Herman Weathersby, recalled that Gilmore was 7 years old when he met her and that their relationship strengthened with time.

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Jackson listened during his sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
Jackson listened during his sentencing hearing on Tuesday.Faith Ninivaggi

Like his wife and others who spoke, Herman Weathersby said Gilmore's murder means no one in her family will see her get married or have children or see what career path she would follow as she moved out of her 20s into the 30s and beyond.

And while not criticizing anyone for offering words of encouragement, Herman Weathersby expressed frustration at how inadequate the short phrase — "sorry for your loss'' — is for his family, given the enormity of their loss and the way Gilmore's life ended.

"People keep saying, 'I'm sorry for your loss. I am sorry for your loss,' " he said. "Well, we didn't lose Keosha. We didn't go to a park on a family vacation and lose Keosha. She was murdered, taken away from us in this selfish act.''

During the trial, the defense called Jackson's mother to describe her efforts to steer him through special education programs as he grew up. As he sentenced Jackson, the judge reminded him of the efforts his mother had made on his behalf.

"His mother obviously worked hard to provide a good life for her son,'' Yessayan said. "Yet on the day in question, he murdered Keosha. He destroyed her family and he obviously destroyed his own family.''

As Jackson's mother left the courtroom, a friend of Gilmore's reached out and offered a comforting hug.

Jackson will be given credit for 1,151 days he spent awaiting trial.

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John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.