WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A teenager who fatally stabbed a movie theater worker at an upscale New York mall has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino Jr. says that despite their pain, relatives of 19-year-old victim Daij Thomas have publicly forgiven his killer.

Michael Pettiford pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery in January.

The April 2017 violence occurred at the Ridge Hill mall in Yonkers.

Pettiford approached Thomas in the theater lobby. Thomas refused a challenge to fight then was stabbed during a struggle over his phone.

In a statement read by a prosecutor, Sheila Hamilton described the death of her son as "a parent's nightmare."

The mother of the victim's 3-year-old child says the little boy has been asking for his father.