NEW IBERIA, La.—A Black judge sentenced an 11-year-old Black girl to seven years relating to the fatal shooting of Kamaran Bedsole, a 36-year-old White man. Half of that time will be in custody and the other on probation. (See The Final Call Vol. 43 No. 26 and Vol. 43 No. 30)

During the highly anticipated hearing on May 8, Judge Roger Hamilton said that he wasn’t there to seek justice or to punish, but was there to intervene and rehabilitate, and to see to the needs of the child, which he called a delicate balance.

“You will be with this court for the next seven years,” stated Judge Hamilton. The little girl wept silently, wiping her eyes and cheeks as he asked if she understood him. “Yes,” she softly replied, twice. Around that time, about five people walked out of court, shaking their heads.

Judge Hamilton said he hoped she understood and could get past the experience she had that day.


The child was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and accessory to murder in Mr. Bedsole’s death in November 2023. She is expected to testify against her 15-year-old brother, who was also charged with 1st-degree murder and has been held in Jackson Parish Juvenile Detention Center since his arrest on Dec. 5.

Based on evidence, the judge stated that he had seen that she had suffered a significant amount of failure in her young life. Judge Hamilton stated that the young girl’s parents failed in rearing her, and the education system failed her by not catching and correcting school absences, among other things.

“All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.  … We are in a fight for our lives,” stated Elaine Provost, a co-founder of the Shreveport, La.-based All Streets All People (ASAP) community organization. “How are you going to talk about her getting educated. … She’s crying. But who are you punishing? Her or her parents?” said the activist.

“She’s my granddaughter. She’s my niece. She’s my lil’ cousin. She’s my family. She’s all of our family” continued Ms. Provost, during a news conference after proceedings.

The child was ordered to attend school, do community service, pay restitution to the deceased’s family for burial expenses, pay for supervision fees, get psychological treatment, learn about the severity of guns, and no social media for seven years.

But for additional evidence provided by state attorneys, among other things, she probably would have been sentenced to seven years, said Judge Hamilton. That evidence included the fact that the girl had attended 11-12 schools in her young life, and had gone back and forth between Louisiana and New York, he said.

“What happened to her in life was not her own choices,” said her attorney Ron Haley. “She did not make the choice not to go to school. … Where she was at that particular day is not on her either,” he added.

Atty. Haley added that he wholeheartedly believes that the fundamental belief that an 11-year-old is too young to be subjected to the criminal justice system is the reason the courtroom was packed.

The child could petition the court to expunge her record at the end of her seven-year sentence.

Kim Herman, Mr. Bedsole’s mother, read solemnly a witness impact statement on the stand, showed Judge Hamilton pictures of her son, and wept as she spoke about her loss.

“The world has changed forever when I lost my only child, my miracle child,” said Ms. Herman, who said she had been unable to have children. They were on the verge of a new beginning, but Saturday, Nov. 11, three days before his death, was the last time she saw him, she said.

“He was a loving, happy, sincere, kind, humble, hard-working, loving father to his daughter (10),” said Ms. Herman.

What still remains unclear are the details of what led to the fatal shooting and the connection between the deceased and the 11 year old and her teen brother. Community members are concerned that the young girl will be further traumatized in additional time in a juvenile facility.

“All of us feel a degree of pain, is that right?” asked Student Minister Abdul Rashid Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 65 in Baton Rouge. “What we must do is distribute that pain.

We’re recommending an economic boycott in the City of New Iberia … ” he said, during a news conference outside the courthouse right after the hearing. “We’re asking for your help and your cooperation. In unity, we can accomplish what we will,” added Student Minister Muhammad.

In the wake of the police killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling in 2016, the community’s economic boycott in one day slashed over $5-1/2 million from the city’s economy, explained   Rashad Ali Muhammad, Student Minister Muhammad’s son.   

“This is an effective plan, an economic boycott. … They don’t fear nothing but that money. ‘In God We Trust.’  That’s on their dollar bill. That is their god, so we’ve got to take their god from them,” added Rashad Muhammad.

Devon Norman, president and director of The Village 337, a collective of young leaders based in Lafayette, La., acknowledged the grief of Mr. Bedsole’s mother.

“But I must say is that this community must ask the question why was it that an 11-year-old child was in that situation? What was the relationship between the two children and this grown adult?  We still have many questions that have been unanswered,” said Mr. Norman, during the news conference.

Angela Eaglin, vice president of The Village 337, said the fight isn’t over. “Things can be done.  They can be undone. That’s going to be our prayer. We don’t believe justice has been served here today,” she stated.

She reiterated they have sympathy for Mr. Bedsole’s family, which suffered a great loss, and they are not negating that. However, the people’s lingering questions must be answered, she said.

“It’s pretty disturbing to me because obviously, this is a very traumatic situation for that young child,” stated Civil Rights Attorney Daryl K. Washington of the Dallas, Texas-based Washington Law Firm P.C. He noted he has limited knowledge of the case, but said whenever there’s a child involved, there are different avenues that could be pursued that would exclude incarceration and those avenues should be looked at.

“Tactics were used on her to get some type of confession that I didn’t think was appropriate. I just didn’t think it was appropriate at all to have an 11-year-old child incarcerated,” Atty. Washington told The Final Call.

“I don’t know the reason behind why the judge or whomever made that decision saw it that way, but whenever it’s a child, I always look at the long-term effects of it.

When you’re dealing with an adult, an adult could be rehabilitated from situations like that. Often times, it becomes very difficult for a child, so unless there were some extenuating circumstances that I don’t know of, I just perhaps wish maybe there could have been a different alternative looked at for that kid,” he stated.

Atty. Washington said he will follow the case and would like to see what the outcome will be.  “It appears to be a very sad case. It’s definitely not a case where there are going to be any winners,” he concluded.