A man was sentenced in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Richmond today to 36 years to life in prison for mistakenly shooting two of his childhood friends on Interstate Highway 80 in Pinole in 2008, killing one and seriously injuring the other.
Aaron Myers, 25, of Richmond, was convicted May 28 of voluntary manslaughter for killing 25-year-old Rhonda White and four counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter for shooting at four other people in White’s car, including his best friend Donnaray Allison, who spent two months in the hospital recovering from his injuries. Myers was also found guilty of discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and shooting at an occupied vehicle, a charge that carried with it a mandatory 25-years-to-life sentence. The shooting happened April 3 on westbound Highway 80. White was driving with a group of friends to the bowling alley in Albany when Myers passed them on the highway. White waved at Myers, and Allison, who was sitting in the front
passenger seat of White’s car, flashed two peace signs. White then accelerated slightly to pull up to Myers’ car again to say hi. But, according to Myers’ attorney David Headley, White was driving a new car that Myers didn’t recognize. He had been shot at two months earlier, and when he saw the unfamiliar car pulling alongside him, he thought he was going to be shot, Headley said during trial. In a moment of panic, Myers pushed his pregnant girlfriend’s head down and shot over her, shattering his window and the windows in White’s car, Headley said. Myers’ friend Brian Young, 22, who was also in the car with Myers also allegedly started shooting. Together, they hit White’s car at least 14 times with an AK-47 and a .38 caliber handgun, according to prosecutor Mark Peterson. The three passengers in the back seat of White’s car, Christopher Robinson, Ashley Davis and Sean Wydermyer were not injured. As White died in the driver’s seat, the car veered off the road. Wydermyer, who was sitting in the backseat, grabbed the steering wheel, guided the car back onto the shoulder and pulled the emergency break. White died at the scene and Allison was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. Myers’ girlfriend, Tiana Sheppard, crashed Myers’ car a few minutes later and the three took off running through the weeds. They later called a friend to come pick them up. Myers, Young, White, Allison, Wydermyer and Robinson had all grown up together in Richmond’s Parchester Village neighborhood. White and Myers even had adjoining backyards and when they were children, their parents removed part of the fence to let them together, Headley said. According to White’s aunt, White was the godmother to Myers’ children. When Myers, Young and Sheppard found out they had killed White and critically injured Allison, they were so upset they were almost suicidal,
Headley said. Sheppard turned herself in to police in Pinole a few days after the shooting and later pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact. She was sentenced to a year in county jail and felony probation. Myers later turned himself in to police in Las Vegas. Young is still awaiting trial. “I want everyone in this court to know how much I love my daughter and how much I miss her,” White’s father, Donald White, said during the sentencing hearing today. He said that Myers showed no remorse during trial for what he had done. “All you cared about was saving yourself,” Ronald White told Myers. The judge, Peter Spinetta, told the victims that throughout the entire trial he never heard anybody say one negative thing about White. “One of the real tragedies of this is that somebody who was obviously liked as much as she was is gone. Another innocent person taken away from her family,” Spinetta said. White’s aunt said that she forgave Myers for killing White, but said that White “will continue to live on in all of our hearts until we see her again.” Since the two families were still extremely angry at each other over what had happened, Headley advised Myers’ family not to speak on his behalf Myers, however, said he loved White and “to say I did this on
purpose doesn’t make any sense.” “She died of my situation,” Myers said, “not by my gun.” He claimed that it was the person shooting the AK-47, allegedly Brian Young, whose bullets killed White and injured Allison. The bullets from his gun didn’t hit anybody, he said. “You can say whatever you want to say, I didn’t kill her,” Myers said. “You may not have intended to kill Rhonda White, but you did kill Rhonda White,” Spinetta told Myers. “God took her,” Myers said. “God called her home.” “You pulled the trigger,” Spinetta told him. “As a result of your actions and those of your compatriot Rhonda White is dead.” Headley explained that Myers loved White and Allison and it was important to him to know that his bullets didn’t actually strike either of
them. “These are people he loved. There’s no way he would have intentionally shot at Rhonda White or Donnaray Allison,” Headley said. Peterson said that for Myers to deny responsibility for the killing and to say that God took White was insulting. He said that Myers had a prior criminal history — he was convicted in 2004 of possession of an illegal firearm and in 2005 of burglary — and was known as the “weed man of Parchester Village” because he made his living selling marijuana. “The reason this happened was because of the lifestyle he chose,” Peterson said. Peterson also said that Myers was the one who fired first. “It was his shot that started this,” Peterson said. “Some things cannot be undone, but we have to live with the consequences and the consequences for you is spending most of the rest of your life incarcerated,” Spinetta told Myers. According to Peterson, Myers will become eligible for parole in 35 years. At the end of the hearing, Sheppard, along with her and Myers’ three children, and Myers’ elderly father were escorted from the courtroom ahead of White’s family for their protection.
Copyright © 2009 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.