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A 25-year-old Redwood City man who shot his friend in the face after a night of heavy drinking last February has been sentenced to 38 years to life in prison. Okalani Latu, his arms and neck covered in tattoos, stared blankly at Judge Clifford Cretan this morning as he was sentenced in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Cretan said he had “zero sympathy” for Latu, who he said blatantly violated the terms of his probation from a 2010 assault by illegally acquiring a .25-caliber pistol, consuming alcohol and shooting his friend, who survived the attack but will suffer its effects “for the rest of his life.” Latu claimed the shooting was an accident, defense attorney Randy Hey said.
At about 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 15, 2012, a resident of San Carlos Avenue in unincorporated Redwood City was awakened by a man covered in blood pounding on his front door, according to prosecutors. The man had been shot. Sheriff’s deputies responded and the victim identified the shooter as Latu, who was found driving in the area about 45 minutes later and arrested. The two friends were part of a group that had been out drinking at various Redwood City bars for most of the evening, prosecutors said. After the last bar closed, Latu apparently ordered the 24-year-old victim to get out of his car and then — without apparent provocation — shot him in the face, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. The victim “ran off screaming for help” and Latu drove away, Wagstaffe said.The victim was taken to Stanford Hospital and survived, but has suffered total loss of taste, smell and hearing in one ear. His jaw was permanently damaged and the bullet remains lodged in his head, Wagstaffe said.
After an 11-day trial, a jury in October found Latu guilty of felony mayhem, felony assault with a firearm and being a felon in possession of a gun. Hey said he intends to appeal the case.
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