MANATEE -- Danny Waiters Jr. pleaded no contest Thursday morning to the murder of Paul Grieco on New Year's Day.
Grieco, 19, was shot outside a Chevron gas station, 1832 Manatee Ave. E., at about 8:30 p.m. He later died from his injuries at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
Waiters was sentenced to 22 years in prison followed by three years of probation after he pleaded no contest to a charge of second-degree murder with a firearm.
While Waiters did not shoot Grieco, he participated in the attempted armed robbery that resulted in shots being fired, killing Grieco and injuring one of his friends.
Grieco's mother, Doreen Grieco, was in the courtroom.
"They stole my boy, and I miss him so much," she said outside the courthouse afterward. "This is something a mother never gets over."
Waiters did not make a statement to Grieco's family in court.
"As far as Danny Waiters, he has no remorse," Grieco said.
Thursday's sentencing offered the grieving mother little relief.
"I will never have relief," Grieco said.
Waiters, 18, was arrested on Jan. 2. The other suspect, Jimmy Rivers, 16, turned himself in on Jan. 11.
Conditions of Waiters' probation will include that he testify in the case against Rivers and that he pay restitution to Grieco's family.
Judge Edward Nicholas reminded Waiters he was forfeiting his right to a trial by jury and to appeal the sentence. "I just need to make sure that you understand that absent something really extraordinary, absent something really unusual, your case is over today," Edwards said.
"You don't have the ability to fight it going forward, you don't have the ability to argue that it was an unfair sentence going forward, you don't have the ability to argue that you should have not received this sentence or that your attorney should have argued something different."
Waiters will serve a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. He will receive credit for the time served in jail since January.
Assistant State Attorney Art Brown reviewed in court Thursday the events that led to the shooting that killed Grieco.
Grieco and two friends were walking into the Chevron gas station food mart on New Year's Day when they were approached by Waiters, Rivers and Rivers' brother, Davion Rivers, and asked if they had any marijuana for sale. One of the victims said they did.
Waiters admitted to police in January that he and Jimmy Rivers had been armed with guns and intended to rob Grieco and his friends of their marijuana.
Jimmy Rivers and Waiters approached the vehicle. Waiters, after seeing the marijuana, pulled out his gun and aimed at the back seat passenger. The victim grabbed the gun and, following a struggle, the gun went off. Waiters dropped the gun and ran off. He later came back and retrieved the gun.
Rivers, meanwhile, fired several shots into the front of the car, injuring the driver and shooting Grieco in the face and shoulder. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Using the Chevron station's video surveillance system, police were able to identify Jimmy Rivers and Davion Rivers. Police then received a tip that Waiters was involved.
On Jan. 2, Waiters voluntarily went to the Bradenton police station to be interviewed. He admitted to detectives that he was armed, that he participated in the attempted armed robbery with Jimmy Rivers and that Jimmy Rivers was the shooter responsible for Grieco's death.
Rivers is set to stand trial Jan. 21.
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.