LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A man whose family said he fatally shot his gay son because of his sexual orientation was sentenced Wednesday to 28 years to life.
A Clark County jury in May found Wendell Melton guilty of first-degree murder and child abuse, neglect, or endangerment in the shooting at the Henderson apartment of his son, Giovanni, 14, in November 2017.
While family members said the conflict between father and son was about the son being gay, Melton on Wednesday said “my son Giovanni being gay didn’t cost him his life. … I am sorry … when Giovanni died a part of me died.”
The boy’s mother, Veronica Melton, read a statement in court: “The murderer wasn’t a bank robber, a thug, it was his biological father.”
Since Giovanni’s murder, his mother has claimed her son was murdered by his father because he was gay.
According to prosecutors, on Nov. 2, 2017, Wendell Melton, armed with a gun, went to confront his son at the apartment where the boy lived alone.
Prosecutors said Melton intentionally shot Giovanni, while the man’s defense attorneys claimed Melton brought a gun because he was afraid of his son. Those attorneys also said the firearm accidentally went off during a struggle.
Earlier, court documents revealed a complicated past for the family, including a lingering custody battle for Giovanni and his sibling that included being abandoned by their mother, along with Wendell Melton illegally having guns and threatening his family with them.
When asked outside of the courtroom if this sentencing provided any closure, Veronica Melton said, “I can find closure because I know that this man will be behind bars.”
There is a possibility that Wendell Melton will be eligible for parole after 28 years, but Giovanni’s mother said she hopes she can be at that parole hearing to make sure her son’s murderer never sees life outside prison.