About a year and a half after a premeditated North Richmond shooting that permanently paralyzed a 15-year-old boy, one of the three shooters was sentenced to 44 years to life in prison today in Martinez. Reginald Caldwell, Jr., 17, of Richmond, was sentenced today after being tried as an adult for the attempted murder of Kamari Ridgle, the cousin of a rival Richmond gang member.
Earlier this year, a jury convicted Caldwell on charges of attempted murder, for shooting at someone from a vehicle, for shooting into an inhabited dwelling and for being a member of a street gang. Each charge carried gun and gang-related enhancements, Deputy District Attorney Melissa Smith said. On May 27, 2010, Caldwell, then 15, and two fellow Richmond gang members — Markeith Miles, then 18, and Carlos Francis, Jr., then 19 — armed themselves with numerous guns and tracked Ridgle down as he was walking along though a residential North Richmond neighborhood, prosecutors said.
Caldwell fired the first shots at the 15-year-old, who was then shot by Francis and Miles as he lay on the ground. In all, the trio shot Ridgle 22 times, Smith said. The 15-year-old survived the shooting and is now a paraplegic with only limited use of one arm, she said.
Before Judge Barbara Zuniga handed down the sentence today, she heard a statement from Ridgle’s mother, Richmond resident LaShaunda Johnson. “I feel like we all failed you as a community,” she said, addressing Caldwell from the witness stand today. “I know you’ve devastated my life and the life of your parents, too…I don’t know what Kamari did to you to make you want to do that to him.” Both of Caldwell’s parents also addressed the judge prior to sentencing, requesting a lenient sentence for their son. Reginald Caldwell Sr., Caldwell’s father, reminded the judge that his son was 15 years old when he committed the crime and had been influenced by older gang members in the community.
Caldwell, wearing a green sweatshirt, also took a moment to apologize to Johnson before sentencing. “I’m sorry for what you’re going through over your son, and I’m sorry for what happened to Kamari and everything your family is going through behind this,” he said, addressing the victim’s mother.
Judge Barbara Zuniga told the defendant that she believed his apology both today and in a pre-trial statement to be sincere, but said that “in the name of justice” she would sentence Caldwell to an aggravated term, sending him to prison for 44 years instead of a minimum 40-year-to-life sentence. “Mr. Caldwell showed an incredible amount of callousness with respect to Mr. Ridgle,” Zuniga said.
“Mr. Caldwell was not a passive participant, contrary to his claims that he was induced to commit the crime.” Smith said the teen’s co-defendants in the crime are set to face trial in January for the attempted murder of Ridgle and for a previous gang-related shooting.
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