LARGO — Clearwater parking lot shooter Michael Drejka was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton.
The sentence came during an emotional hearing about six weeks after a jury convicted Drejka of manslaughter.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone heard from relatives of the killer and victim before issuing his sentence.
A letter from Drejka’s wife, Cara, read in court, asked for leniency and called him a “kind, loving, caring hard-working supportive man.”
McGlockton’s family asked for the maximum sentence of 30 years.
“Markeis was loved by so many and because of you, Michael Drejka, my son is now a memory,” said McGlockton’s mother, Monica Moore-Robinson.
“I don’t hate you, but I will never forgive you.”
Bulone described a lengthy analysis in arriving at 20 years for the sentence, at one point echoing attorneys for McGlockton’s family in calling Drejka a “wannabe law enforcement officer.”
He highlighted evidence including Drejka’s lengthy interview with detectives, witness testimony and the surveillance video that captured the July 19, 2018, shooting outside a Clearwater convenience store.
“Let me say this about the video: believe your own eyes,” Bulone said. “If you look at that video, Markeis is not advancing.”
Bulone also talked about responsible gun ownership, pointing to testimony from a use-of-force expert hired by the defense to testify in the August trial.
He noted that the expert said gun carriers should avoid conflict and, if they do end up in a tense situation, only pull their weapon as a last resort.
The confrontation with McGlockton and his family started when Drejka approached their car outside the convenience store and asked why they had parked in a handicap-reserved space without a placard.
“The evidence in this case shows the defendant created conflict and created a confrontation,” the judge said, and “that he shot and killed an unarmed man who was backing up.”
Bulone agreed with Drejka’s defense team that there were some mitigating factors in the case.
Drejka stayed at the scene of the shooting and waited for police to arrive. He cooperated with the investigation. He doesn’t have a criminal history.
Bulone dismissed the defense’s contention that Drejka showed remorse — a contention also noted by McGlockton’s father, Michael McGlockton, as he read a statement in court.
“You showed absolutely no remorse. None,” McGlockton said, pointing to a post-arrest television interview Drejka gave.
“You had the audacity to cry or show emotion because you missed your pets and your wife,” Michael McGlockton said. “I want you to know that that was a slap in my face. You deserve to die in prison.”
The sentencing hearing was the last stop for now in a case that became a test of self-defense laws, tinged with accusations of racial injustice.