A judge Wednesday sentenced a teenage gunman who shot two people outside a Uniondale house party to two decades in prison in a case that previously attracted attention from former Vice President Joe Biden.
State Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald meted out a 20-year prison term to Ahkhazyah Wright, 19, of Roosevelt, after a jury in June convicted him of attempted murder, assault and weapon charges.
Jurors also acquitted Wright of attempted sexual abuse and another attempted murder charge in connection with his actions on July 23, 2017.
Last year Biden recognized the courage of one of the shooting victims, SUNY Cortland graduate Kyle Richard, 22, of Lakeview, at an annual ceremony that celebrates the efforts of students who are working to prevent sexual assault.
Prosecutor Jared Rosenblatt told the judge Wednesday that Wright inflicted brutality on others by choosing to open fire at least six times — causing trauma he said the victims had to relive during the trial.
The Nassau district attorney’s office alleged during the trial that Richard and two friends forced open a door at the Maple Avenue house, stopping Wright as he tried to rape an intoxicated female partygoer after hearing her cries for help.
Gunfire first erupted a short time later after Richard and his two friends escorted Wright, then 17, out of the house, testimony showed.
Wright pulled out a gun and began firing at the trio of friends, with bullets slicing through Richard’s legs before he was able to take cover in the house, according to prosecutors.
Richard, then a star linebacker for Cortland’s football team, said in court Wednesday that it was “the worst day" of his life and he’d had to play the rest of college athletic career “as a lesser version” of himself.
“You tried to kill me because I confronted you,” Richard told Wright in court, while asking for the “longest sentence possible” for him.
Wright opened fire again about a minute after the first shooting, when other friends who had been at the party arrived back at the location after a deli run, according to prosecutors.
That time, Wright shot Michael Abiola, 22, of Lakeview, who still has a bullet lodged in his left arm.
Abiola said after court that he can’t feel part of that arm and can’t fully move two fingers.
“It’s justice,” he said of Wright’s sentence.
Wright apologized in court, saying after victim impact statements from Richard, Abiola, and their friend Jewell Stewart, 22 — another partygoer who testified in the trial — that he could feel their pain.
Wright also said in a letter to the judge that he had earned his high school equivalency diploma in jail and pledged to finish college in the future.
Wright’s attorney, Robert Schalk, pointed out later that his client had been acquitted of some of the serious allegations against him.
“The judge gave what he believed to be a fair sentence, however, the defendant has a right to appeal this sentence and will do so,” he added.