Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — Defense attorney Angelo Musitano pulled no punches when he told a Niagara County Court judge on Tuesday that his client, Cornelius Redden III, "was born destined to failure."
A known gang-banger, with an arrest recored dating back to his early teens, Redden stood in front of Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas to be sentenced for his guilty pleas in drug, assault and weapons cases.
"He knows he's going to state prison," Musitano said. "But he's 19 years old and he already has five (weapons-related convictions)."
Musitano suggested getting his client off the streets, for a few years, might save him from a worse fate. A seasoned federal defense lawyer, he said if Redden picked up one more weapons conviction he would be tagged as a persistent armed felon under federal law.
With that designation, Redden could be sent to federal prison for 50 years.
Farkas noted that Redden had been born prematurely to a crack-addicted mother and a father who is still doing time in state prison.
"There were major concerns about him at the age of 3," Farkas said. "His cognitive development, his behavior, his impulsiveness."
"I look at him and think he's the poster child for America's Dumbest Criminals," Musitano said in reference to some of his client's crimes. "In the (weapons possession case) he's accused of literally shooting himself. He's not a danger to the community, he's a danger to himself."
Even Redden told the judge that his time in jail, so far, has allowed him the chance to earn his GED and "grow and develop into the man I know I could be."
"I want to apologize to the public for what I did," Redden added.
Farkas, who had agreed to sentence Redden to no more than seven years behind bars for the assault and weapons charges, imposed a four-year prison term in those cases. She sentenced him to one year in the drug case.
The sentences will run consecutively, so he may spend a total of five years in prison.
The Falls teen had, briefly, tried to change his guilty plea to charges of attempted fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree assault and attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He had taken those pleas in a deal with prosecutors.
The attempted drug possession charge he originally agreed to was tied to an October 2012 bust that caught him with a significant quantity of crack cocaine.
The assault charge was tied to a May 10 shooting of a rival drug dealer and the weapons charge stemmed from a June 2 incident where he accidentally shot himself.
Redden is also currently serving five years probation for a series of robberies he was convicted of when he was just 16. He was sentenced in that case as a youthful offender.
In August 2011, Redden was also charged in connection with an attack on another inmate at the Niagara County Jail.