A West Contra Costa County man was sentenced to 40 years in prison and his son to nearly 7 years in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez today for the killing of a 20-year-old Richmond man in 2009. Judge John W. Kennedy handed Charles “Mike” Titlow, 51, the 40-year sentence for second-degree murder and a six-year, eight-month sentence to his son, Charles “Chuck” Titlow, 24, on one count of voluntary manslaughter and for acting as an accessory in the fatal shooting of Ricardo Antonio Colina II in Richmond on Aug. 19, 2009. The sentence came after lengthy, emotional statements from the victim’s family, who described their devastation after the loss of a kind, smart young man with a bright future cut tragically short. The killing stemmed from an earlier road rage incident when the younger defendant was driving behind Colina, according to Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox. “The evidence in this case does demonstrate the defendants acted together to kill Ricardo Colina,” Kennedy said before announcing the sentences. “It’s hard to comprehend how one ever gets to the point of killing a human being over bad driving,” the judge said.
In the early hours of Aug. 18, 2009, Chuck Titlow was driving his truck and became enraged over the way Colina was driving. Titlow then rammed Colina’s Hyundai, totaling it, and then tried to run over the victim in the roadway after he exited the destroyed car, Knox said. She said the defendant then “attempted to hit Ricardo Colina in the roadway and would have done so if he hadn’t jumped into the bushes.” She said that during the next two days, Chuck Titlow was “obsessed” with finding Colina and fighting with him. Evidence in the case included text messages between the Tara Hills man and his girlfriend in which he said he was “hunting,” apparently referring to his search for Colina. During those conversations, Titlow also mentioned the fact that Colina is black, the prosecutors said. “Race has always been an issue in this case, bubbling just below the surface,” Knox said — an argument that Chuck Titlow’s attorney refuted. In the roughly 40 hours after Titlow rammed into Colina’s car and tried to run him down, he enlisted several of his friends to accompany him to find and fight Colina, according to Knox.
Around 4:30 p.m., Titlow was driving his truck on San Pablo Avenue in the community of Tara Hills between Richmond and Pinole with a friend when he spotted the victim and his cousin, Jerry Owens, walking on the sidewalk, attorneys said. He then made repeated phone calls to his father, asking him to come to the fight, knowing that it was likely that Mike Titlow would bring a gun and shoot Colina, Knox said. She said the younger Titlow “drove aggressively” toward Colina and Owens on the sidewalk, blocked Colina in with his truck so that he couldn’t get away, then got out and began fighting with the victim. Witnesses to the fight testified that Titlow said something to the victim that made him “run for his life,” Knox said, despite the fact that he outweighed the defendant by about 100 pounds and was considerably taller. A short time later, Mike Titlow drove up, pulled out his gun and shot Colina in the neck, killing him. In the hours following the shooting, the father and son worked to get rid of the gun used in the shooting — a factor that kept the pair out of jail for about nine months, according to Knox.
According to witness testimony during the trial, Chuck Titlow told his friends that Colina had a gun, the prosecutor said. “This gun he described to get friends to fight was nonexistent, but the gun his father brought is very real,” she said. Today in court, Colina’s parents remembered their son as a kindhearted “gentle bear” who was devoted to his family. His parents said their son excelled both in the classroom and on the football field as he went from Pinole Valley High School to City College of San Francisco, where he joined the football team. Many of the victim’s dozen or so family members who appeared in court today wore white ribbons with footballs in honor of their lost son, brother, nephew and cousin. “When you lose a child, your life is turned upside down,” the victim’s mother, Essie Colina, told the court tearfully. “I didn’t lose him — he was taken from me — he was murdered.” Essie Colina showed the court dozens of photos, cards and certificates from her son over the years.
Outside of the courtroom this afternoon, she said she did not believe the brief apology Chuck Titlow offered to the family a short time before sentencing. “He’s not sorry…he’s a bully,” she said, citing the defendant’s many fights with fellow inmates while in county jail in Martinez. In one instance since his arrest in 2010, Titlow threatened to attack his cellmate if he didn’t shower, Knox said. “Once he gets angry, once he feels he’s been disrespected, he can’t let it go,” she said. Chuck Titlow’s lawyer, Laurie Mont, said today that her client may be “obnoxious and a jerk,” but that he never intended for Colina to die and was surprised and panicked after his father shot him. Mike Titlow declined to give a statement at today’s sentencing hearing.
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