MILWAUKEE -- A family gathered on a day that is normally meant for celebration. This birthday party had balloons and cake -- but the guest of honor was not there. Friday, Feb. 1 would have been Dennis 'Boo Man' King's 16th birthday, but he was killed in May of last year.
"It's been difficult, it's been really difficult," said Dombanee Lincoln, King's mother. "It's heartbreaking. Some days, it's really hard to get out of bed."
Lincoln is using this day to remember her son's life.
"I want to the outcome to be great. I want everyone to be happy," said Lincoln.
Investigators say 22-year-old Malik Terrell stabbed and beat King after a dispute over a video game. Terrell later burned King's body. King's family remembers the high school freshman -- full of life, with a promising future.
"Always smiling, his smile would light up the room," said Lincoln. "He was so handsome."
"He wore his character, his personality -- he wore it well," said King's great-grandmother, Melvina Harris Thompson.
They share memories, and take some time just to have fun.
"As a family, we still miss him so much," said Thompson. "But we know he's in a better place."
A young man whose spirit is still felt in this room on a bittersweet 16.
"He didn't make it to 16, but we are standing in the gap for him," said Thompson.
Terrell was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole. His mother and brother were also charged in connection to the case. They both pleaded guilty to the crimes.