- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

PALATKA, Fla. (AP) - A judge sentenced the former owner of a northeast Florida tree service to 15 years in prison for the death of a teenager who was working for him.

First Coast News in Jacksonville (https://bit.ly/1w4wjBg ) reports 38-year-old Jonathan Harves Wilkes pleaded guilty this week to charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Blake Bryant was 14 when he accidentally cut through his safety harness while working for John Wilkes Tree Service. An arrest warrant says that the teen’s family thought he was moving limbs and branches. They didn’t know he was climbing trees.

Wilkes told authorities he believed Bryant was 16. A state statute, however, restricts employment of anyone under 18 in a logging occupation.

Wilkes faced 30 years in prison.

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