Tay-K’s older rap protégé Santana Sage won’t be releasing music any time soon. A jury in Judge Bruce McFarling’s 362nd Judicial District Courtroom found Santana guilty Monday of fatally shooting a 20-year-old University of North Texas student on New Year’s Day 2016.
Santana, born Eric Johnson, received a 44-year prison term for the slaying after a Denton County jury deliberated for about four hours Tuesday, the Washington Post reports. The 21-year-old ex-Marine faced up to life in prison for the murder of Sara Mutschlechner (MUCH’-lehk-nur).
Santana will be eligible for parole in 22 years, the Star-Telegram reports.
Santana hoped for a manslaughter conviction after his attorney, Bruce Isaacks, argued the fatal shooting was a mistake, People reports. Isaacks said Santana, who was high on Xanax at the time, only meant to fire warning shots to scare off the group, according to Dallas News.
Santana claimed Cory Perry, 24, a passenger in Mutschlechner’s car, hinted at having a gun and then reached toward something in the car. There were no weapons found in Mutschlechner’s car.
Mutschlechner – a designated driver – was with three of her friends, two men and a woman, after leaving a party, where Johnson and his crew “Daytona Boyz” performed.
Tay-K was a passenger in Johnson’s car when they pulled alongside Mutschlechner’s vehicle, and made sexual comments to her and other people in her car, People Magazine reports.
The young men tried talking to Mutschlechner and her friend Cori, saying they wanted to “f**k them,” Heavy reports.
Mutschlechner shot down Johnson and friends’ advances, telling the entourage their comments were rude. One of Johnson’s passengers allegedly told one of Mutschlechner’s friends he would “beat him up.”
Mutschlechner’s friends said they saw Johnson holding a gun before firing two shots at their vehicle.
Mutschlechner was shot in the head, and crashed her car into another vehicle and an electrical pole.
Denton police just released this picture of 20-yr-old Sara Mutschlechner's car. She was shot while driving this a.m. pic.twitter.com/Vl7J1VRMbn
— Jason Allen (@CBS11JasonAllen) January 1, 2016
Mutschlechner’s friends said Tay-K was in the backseat of the vehicle, describing him as looking “very young” and having braces. They said a third group member, Pimpyz, was wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball hat.
Photos and video of Johnson, Tay-K and Pimpyz performing at the party surfaced on the net.
— DailyOoze (@TheDailyOoze) January 2, 2016
An alleged friend of Johnson told a North Texas student and friend of Mutschlechner that the suspect wasn’t at fault for the crime.
The North Texas student posted the dm he received:
“Yo friend was at the wrong place wrong time ya boi that was driving was talking s**t to my n***a at the light my n***a already beat a n***a up that night he was already heated he wasn’t trying to hear no moe s**t so he aired that h*e out not aiming for yo gh aiming for tha driver.”
The North Texas student wrote in his caption, “I am Beyond Pissed. He said Sara was at the wrong at the wrong time I can’t f****g believe this.”
Mutschlechner was a Junior student majoring in radio, television and film. She was a sorority member of Gamma Phi Chapter of ZTA.