A fight between two 16-year-old boys left one dead and another serving 12 years for murder.
Christopher Track, now 17, was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court in June to the second-degree murder of Prince Nedd, 16.
Arizona law mandates that anyone 15 years or older who is charged with certain felony crimes must be tried as an adult.
Both Track and Nedd had been working at a McDonald’s in March 2022 when Track shot Nedd after a fight, he admitted.
Superior Court Judge Suzanne Cohen sentenced Track on Friday, weighing Track’s past and his actions in front of both his and Nedd’s family.
“Two teenage boys arguing over hash browns ends in a young man losing his life,” Cohen said to everyone in court before sentencing Track.
On March 2, 2022, Track and Nedd fought over a food order at the McDonald’s bathroom near 51st Avenue and Baseline Road in Phoenix, according to court records.
In a memo submitted to the court, the state explained that Nedd won the fight and then taunted Track about it. He also filmed it on his phone.
Nedd walked out, and Track pulled a gun. He followed Nedd, and shot him in the back while still inside the McDonald’s.
After fleeing, Track walked into a police precinct five days later and turned himself in.
Nedd’s family members watched the sentencing through a virtual stream. They had written the court letters describing the heartache of losing such a young relative.
Nedd’s family depicted him as a smart, reliable and aspirational teenager.
Nedd’s mother wrote that his loss tore her family apart.
”The joy we once found in everyday life has been replaced by a profound sense of emptiness,” she wrote.
Prosecutors told the court that the state believed that Track had shot Nedd after reflecting on what happened, attempting to get revenge.
They asked the judge to sentence Track to 16 years in prison.
Track’s family and attorneys presented the judge with Track’s background and history of being raised in a violent home and growing up with psychological struggles.
Track’s mother told the judge that he had lived through ongoing violence as a kid and that his behavior became erratic after he was hit by a truck.
She explained that violence plagued her and her family, but when she got free from it, she tried to get Track into behavioral therapy. It had been working, but when COVID-19 hit, that treatment dwindled.
“It felt like the traumatic events just kept rolling downhill on him,” she said.
In court, she turned to look Track in the eyes and told her son, “I refuse to give up on you.”
Track’s lawyer, Theodore Saldivar, explained that Track had been on medication and a doctor had described Track as being on a spectrum for schizophrenia.
Track spoke in his defense and told the court that he was emotionally broken about what he did.
“Prince didn’t deserve what happened to him. He was just working his first job like I was,” Track said. “I know his family’s heartbroken like my family would have been if it had been me.”
Before sentencing Track, Cohen spoke about the heartbreak he had caused not just Nedd’s family but his own, looking in their direction.
About 16 members of Track’s family had shown up to support him.
“But the harm to Nedd’s family can’t be put into words or numbers,” Cohen added.
She considered Track’s childhood, his mental health history, and his turning himself in, and concluded that she disagreed with the state that Track had acted with “reflection.”
“I believe your action was one of impulse and not thinking based on the circumstances surrounding the crime,” she said.
She sentenced Track to 12 years and gave him some advice.
“Use the next years wisely, and you come out, and you give back, and maybe you give back in Prince’s name and make the loss of his life mean something,” she said.
Why we are writing this
This reporting follows a crime that The Republic began to cover in 2022 and is part of our commitment to telling the story from start to finish.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Teen sentenced to 12 years for murder at Phoenix McDonald’s