The wailing from Soline Richard filled a Central Islip federal courtroom Friday as the heartbroken mother unleashed 10 years of pain and anguish.
"He killed my only son. My baby. My baby. He killed my only son!" Richard shouted at Dylan Cruz, a Bloods gang member who previously confessed to murdering Anthony Richard, along with a slew of violent crimes from 2010 through 2016.
In a plea deal with prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert sentenced Cruz to 35 years in prison and five years supervised probation, a term that will run consecutive with the 18 months he has remaining on a robbery conviction from 2016.
Cruz, 30, a member of the Red Lane Gorillas set of the Bloods, pleaded guilty in December to a racketeering charge stemming from the July 2012 murder of Richard in Baldwin Harbor; the October 2014 murder of Ehrik Williams in Hempstead; the November 2010 attempted murder of a rival gang member in Roosevelt; and a yearslong conspiracy to murder members of a rival set of the Bloods in Brooklyn.
Co-defendant Richard Michel has also pleaded guilty to the racketeering charge and is awaiting sentencing.
"Thirty-five years will never amount to what you've taken from us," Cigarella Richard, Anthony's younger sister, said in court as she turned to Cruz. "You may not have looked my brother in the eye [during the murder] but look me in the eye. His soul is inside me. And his soul is something you'll never take from me."
Defense attorney Jeremy Schneider said Cruz was the product of the rape of his 15-year-old mother and suffered from years of untreated mental illness. Cruz, he said, was rejected by family members — who were not in court — and turned to gangs for security and companionship.
"He never had a chance, even before he was born. It's sad and tragic but not surprising," Schneider said of Cruz's violent past.
In court, Cruz said he took responsibility for his crimes.
"I feel very bad but I know that won't change anything," he said.
Seybert called Cruz a "blight on all of our communities" who she said has spent years "terrorizing people."
Cruz, Michel and other Red Lane Gorillas engaged in a violent gang war against rival crews, including the Crips and the 5-9 Brims set of the Bloods, throughout Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn, according to court filings.
“Dylan Cruz’s senseless, callous violence took the lives of two innocent young men and devastated their families, all because of suspected offenses against his fellow gang members and associates,” said Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Cruz and Michel admitted firing at least 15 shots at close range into Anthony Richard's parked car in 2012, killing him and severely wounding a passenger. The gang members suspected Richard assisted the Crips in the murder of Bloods member James McClenic of Roosevelt in 2010. Prosecutors said Richard played no role in McClenic's murder.
Cruz also confessed to the October 2014 killing of Ehrik Williams in Hempstead, whom he mistakenly believed robbed one of his associates.
"Your choices tore my family apart," Nadja Roberson, Williams' sister, told Cruz in court Friday. "My brother had a child who will never know her father. … There was no reason for this. My brother should be here today."
Prosecutors said Cruz confessed to a litany of other crimes, including shooting and paralyzing a suspected rival gang member in Roosevelt in 2010; the attempted murder of the Rollin' 60s Crips member in Uniondale in 2013 that left a bystander shot in the foot; and a gunpoint robbery at a car dealership in North Merrick in 2016, in which an employee was pistol-whipped.
"He is the most violent gang member I've ever prosecuted," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Boeckmann, adding that Cruz has continued his violent behavior in prison, committing multiple assaults that landed him in solitary confinement for much of his current term.
Outside of court, Cigarella Richard said that while she would have liked to see a longer sentence for Cruz, "the fact that some justice was served, it is a breath of fresh air. It doesn't change anything. But it does make going to sleep a little bit easier."