An Orange County Superior Court judge, responding to emotional and unusual pleas for leniency from jurors, agreed Friday to spare from prison a sexually abused teen-ager convicted of killing his guardian.
Judge Robert Fitzgerald, who said he probably would have sentenced Joeri DeBeer, 18, to up to 14 years in state prison if it had not been for the testimony of the same jurors who convicted him, placed the young man on three years' probation.
DeBeer, a tall, handsome blond who sat quietly during the two-hour hearing in the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, bowed his head and wept silently as the sentence was announced.
Jurors, friends and supporters cheered and clapped in support of the sentence.
Fitzgerald called the jurors' testimony on DeBeer's behalf "extraordinary and unusual" because it came from 10 of the 12 jurors who convicted the teen-ager of voluntary manslaughter for killing his guardian, Phillip Parsons, 51, of Dana Point.