FORT WORTH — When Southwest High School honor student Eric Forrester was murdered in April 2010, two 16-year-old boys were arrested. The community in south Fort Worth was in shock.
Now the victim's family is reliving the tragedy as the first suspect goes to trial.
It's taken two years for Broderick Patterson to face justice. Now 18, Patterson has entered a plea of guilty, and is asking a jury to determine his sentence.
He faces five to 99 years in prison, or life without parole.
After Patterson was arrested in 2010, he was certified as a youthful offender, so the death penalty is not an option.
Things have changed for the suspects and for the Forrester family, but Monday in court it was apparent the heartache is still there.
Broderick Patterson is bigger, two years older than when he was arrested. He has grown up behind bars.
Debbie Forrester faced him in court and told the jury she still struggles through day-to-day activities, knowing her son Eric will always be 17 years old.
"It was really hard today seeing his friends come to the courthouse, because a lot of them I haven't seen, and they are all older. They all look older. They are older. They're more mature," Debbie Forrester said.
Eric Forrester was killed in April 2010. He and his sister came home and interrupted a break-in. Police said Patterson and Clifton Elliott were stealing laptop computers when one of them fired a gun and killed the honor student.
A key piece of evidence is Forrester's cell phone. Detectives said he dialed 911, left the phone on, and put it in his pocket. Emergency operators recorded the confrontation, the gunshot, and the voices of those who pulled the trigger.
In court, Eric's father, Richard Forrester, confessed that the phone's voice mail provides comfort for his family. He told the prosecutor the phone is in evidence storage, but he still calls it to hear the voicemail message.
"I have to hear his voice every once in a while," Richard Forrester said through tears.
Patterson entered the guilty plea to avoid a mandatory sentence. The jury will decide if he will ever get out of prison.
The Forresters have chosen to reserve judgment and comment until after the trial.
They know they will never see their son or the life he could have lived. "I would have loved to see the wife he picked out," Debbie Forrester said. "I'd love to see his children."
Elliott is waiting for his trial. His attorneys will use the transcripts from Patterson's sentencing trial to determine the best defense.
Elliott and Patterson have accused each other of pulling the trigger in the shooting.