MADISON, Ala. - For most of us, it's simply the day after Christmas. However, for one Madison family, it marks one year since something really bad happened. Eighteen-year-old Jason West was shot and killed on December 26, 2016. His mother shared a blog post about how the family is coping.
Madison Police say the Sonic on County Line Road became the scene of a deadly set up. Court documents revealed that Jason West walked up to a car window and chatted for a minute, before being shot in the chest.
Just hours later, Madison Police arrested Trevor Cantrell, 19 and Dacedric Ward, 22, for the killing. Court records say Cantrell admitted to police that the pair told West they would sell him Xanax, but they intended to rob him all along. Cantrell told police that Ward shot West so "everyone would know he was a gangster," the documents show. Trevor Cantrell and Dacedric Ward are both charged with capital murder.
At the time, West's mother, Maureen Mack West said, "He was an amazing kid. I mean, he had a wit and a humor," she said, "And he had a tendency to try to get himself in trouble, and that will be obvious from the criminal complaint that's been released and the information that had been released out there."
But she also told us, "What I found out after he died is that he went into his sister's room and kissed both of them goodnight every single night when he was on his way to take a shower. And I didn't know that."
A year later, she has focused in on the taste of life her son enjoyed. She details how she is coping in a blog post, writing in part, "Jason was fortunate enough to be born into a loving family. The first kid and first grandkid, he was doted on. He went to a fun preschool, and we had the means to live in a good school district and a nice neighborhood. He felt safe. He had good teachers and made friends easily. He was never the bully nor the butt."
She concludes that there is comfort in his life story, however brief, "Because he truly tasted life and what it had to offer, and it was good."
Mack West also shared that her family is "healthy, happy and healing." She says they're grateful for the time she had with Jason.
On Thanksgiving, Mack West's grandparents dedicated a tasting garden in Jason's memory. The plaque reads, "Jason Ender West - Who but tasted life before he was taken from us."
His mother reflects on all the ways that her son got to experience the joys of life like playing baseball, taking family vacations to the beach, fishing and much more. Maureen Mack West says while this day is sad, looking back at all the ways Jason got to "taste life," helps her feel better.
In that same blog, Mack West calls the men accused of killing her son "two punks with a gun."
Dacedric Ward has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. In August, Trevor Cantrell asked for youthful offender status. The judge denied that request and he will be charged as an adult. No trial dates have been set for either suspect.