2nd teen pleads guilty to 2013 murder of J.P. Shelley

2nd teen pleads guilty to 2013 murder of J.P. Shelley
Published: Sep. 17, 2015 at 4:52 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2015 at 9:22 PM CDT
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(Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)
(Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A second teen charged in the 2013 murder of contractor John "J.P." Shelley pleaded guilty Thursday.

Corey Sandifer, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Sandifer was also sentenced to 12 years for aggravated assault to be served concurrently.

"This can happen to anyone. My husband was just out doing his job and three teens who were supposed to be in school, but were not in school - who had criminal records - they were out roaming the street," said Beverly Shelley, widow of J.P. Shelley.

John Shelley was killed October 4, 2013 in the 4700 block of Scottsdale Avenue. Shelley worked as a contractor and was in the area for a meeting with another construction worker to discuss refurbishing a home.

The two men were confronted by Derek Cunningham Jr., Thomas Moss, and Corey Sandifer, who robbed them. Cunningham shot Shelley in the neck, which killed him.

Investigators said Sandifer, Cunningham, and Moss were connected to gangs and had previous criminal charges.

"Those gang members don't show up in court when they're sentenced," Shelley said.

In August, Cunningham pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison with no parole.

Thomas Moss is still in custody and is scheduled to be in court in October.

Although Shelley's widow forgives them, she said something must be done to correct the juvenile court system.

In the wake of his murder, J.P. Shelley's family teamed up with JIFF, a local non-profit organization whose main goal is to change the lives of juvenile offenders.

Beverly Shelley is a board member of JIFF, and dedicated her life to helping children who enter the cycle of being in and out of juvenile court.

"We're it. If they don't get help from us, they go back to their houses. They go back home into these gang filled environments that they come from," Shelley said. "God loves you even if you make a mistake and this was a grave mistake. And I just pray that they turn their lives around and maybe can guide other young people and steer them away from a life of crime."

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