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Cromartie gets at least 35 years after pleading guilty to Proutey murder

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A second suspect pleaded guilty today to murdering a CFCC student more than a year ago. Now he will spend at least 35 years behind bars for the crime.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom today as Christopher Cromartie expressed his remorse, though in court we saw him openly laughing and waving to his mother, even arguing with the victim's sister saying he did not do anything wrong just after entering a plea of guilty.

Facing a judge today Cromartie spoke to the family of Joshua Proutey just before the judge handed down her sentence. Cromartie's family felt the weight of today, too.

"Right now all we can do is just offer our condolences to the family and our sympathy and just pray for them that God gives them some kind of comfort out of all of this," Cromarties mother said.

Cromartie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed robbery of 19-year-old Proutey in December 2012.

Proutey's family told Cromartie they wanted to see real remorse. Cromartie insisted he did nothing wrong, because he was not the person who pulled the trigger.

"There were many decisions he made that night to do something and not do something that changed the reason she's no longer here with Josh on this earth," District Attorney Ben David said referring to Proutey's mother.

David said today's sentencing should send a message to criminals everywhere.

"If you hunt in a pack, you're culpable for the kill," David said. "Doesn't matter if you're the getaway driver, the lookout or the trigger man."

Cromartie's twin sister was broken-hearted acknowledging this is a difficult situation for everyone involved.

"I'm sad, because he's gonna be gone for a while, and I'm also sad because of the family, but it's OK. I'm just sorry. I'm sorry that he made that stupid choice to go off with them," his sister said.

A stupid choice the defendant says he did not intend to turn into murder.

David says that doesn't matter.

"How about when you see a loaded .357 Magnum handgun, how about that? How about that changing it from just breaking and enterings as he called it to something where someone's being killed, someone's baby being murdered," David said.

The judge told Cromartie to be grateful that Proutey's family offered him forgiveness. She said she hoped he would make something productive out of his life behind bars.

Cromartie and three others were charged with robbing and shooting Proutey in the parking lot of the Community Arts Center as Proutey left work for the night. Prosecutors say the four suspects were looking for someone to rob, found Proutey in the parking lot and robbed him of $10, his cell phone and a sandwich before shooting and killing him.

Quintel Grady pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in December. In doing so, Grady avoided the death penalty.

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