Thursday, 17-year-old Zantrall Sauls was sentenced to ten years probation for the attack on Derek Whitener.
Whitener stopped at the store on January 14, 2017. As he walked through the Target parking lot, two people approached him – one of whom was carrying a wooden rod.
Once inside the store, Whitener told employees and store security about what happened. They told him he didn’t need to call police and promised to handle the situation. Store security asked the would-be assailants to leave and later assured Whitener it was safe for him to exit the store.
Whitener’s father, Grady, said the attack on his son left him with permanent brain damage and that brain surgery was the only thing that saved his life.
Grady Whitener was given the chance to address the man who attacked his son. “There were days that we thought our family was gonna lose him. The seriousness of this is just unfathomable,” he said. “I can’t fathom and neither can he or any member of our family and I know I’m not gonna get an answer today but, why could two people, you and your co-conspirator, decide your just gonna [say]… ‘I know I got an idea. Let’s get some masks and let’s get an improvised weapon and let’s just go out and try to kill two or three people tonight.”
He went on to say that Sauls and his accomplice are getting off the hook easy. “When you go and you commit two or three felonies… that was 20 years each and you’re getting probation. And we have the other offender, your co-conspirator; the judge herself even said ‘when he goes to placement for four months and comes out a model citizen we will celebrate him.’ She said those words. So, there is no justice that Derek has received.”
Marcus Fowlers, Saul’s father, said he has an idea of what the Whitener family is going through. “I’m a former victim also,” he said. “I wanted you to hear it from me, from his family, that I apologize.”
After Sauls was sentenced Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson issued a statement that said, in part –
“With the victim’s approval, Sauls was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication with 4 months of jail time as a condition. The victim is focused on his recovery and putting this vicious crime behind him.”