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Florida teen gets 25 years in prison for attempting to murder transgender woman

A teenager in Tampa, Fla., was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday for the attempted murder of a transgender woman, officials said.

Tavares Spencer, 16, was convicted in October for shooting Terrence McDonald, a man Spencer believed was a woman.

Tampa Police said in April that Spencer was so irate when he learned McDonald was a man that he lured McDonald into a vacant house and shot him, NBC station WFLA reported.

McDonald told police that after being shot in the hip, he played dead and watched Spencer flee. But when he stood up, Spencer witnessed McDonald's movement and shot him again.

Cora Keaton, Spencer's grandmother who was at Friday's sentencing, pleaded with the judge and said her grandson didn't grow up with a father and lacked a male role model. She said he still has the potential to be "different."

"My grandson has a very good heart. He's funny. He's kindhearted. He has a problem," Keaton said.

Spencer also spoke at the sentencing and claimed the situation has brought him closer to God.

"I just pray for mercy. I asked God to forgive me and I feel in my heart he forgave me and I just want help," he said. "I know my actions won't go unpunished. I know that. I just feel like I need help. I feel like I need another chance."

Spencer also begged for forgiveness from family members in the courtroom.

"I want to apologize to the victim and the victim's family. And I want to apologize to my family for causing pain," he said.

The judge ruled that Spencer has demonstrated a progressive pattern of criminal behavior and sentenced him to 25 years, WFLA reported.

Spencer's dad, who is currently incarcerated, is slated for release next month.