Friends and family of Trey Byers planned on wearing black wristbands in his memory to his killer's trial.
Cody Jackson, 21, had been charged in Byers' murder, and a trial had originally been set for November 26.
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But last week, Jackson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter in a deal which would have him serve 20 years on that charge and another 10 years probation for concealing Byers' body in the woods.
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Byers' sister-in-law Susannah Posey says the deal happened so quickly it stripped the family of the chance to give their input.
"If they had given us a heads-up that this is what's in the works, or this is what's going on, you know, we might have been better prepared to make the decision."
Posey says she had hoped for a stricter punishment
Byers went missing in December 2010, and his body was found in the woods two months later.
Officials say Jackson killed Byers after the two got into an argument over selling Xanax pills.
Prosecutor Cliff Woody says the plea deal was the best way for him to guarantee the maximum sentence for manslaughter in case a jury did not come back with a murder conviction.
But Byers' friend Jessica Vogt, says she's concerned about the idea of Jackson being released back into their community later on.
"That's what we basically think this is, was another slap on the wrist, because you know, he'll be out in 20 (years). Will Trey? Will we see Trey again? No."
Byers was survived by his fiance, Lisa Humphreys, who lives in Roberta with their children.
"It's not right," says Posey. "Their mom does such a great job, she's wonderful, but it's not ever going to change the fact that they don't have their dad now, and it's just completely unacceptable."