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Plea deal made in Wantagh college student's slay case

Richard Bailey's General MacArthur High School yearbook photo.

Richard Bailey's General MacArthur High School yearbook photo. (Undated) Credit: Handout

One of three men originally charged with murder and facing a 25-years-to-life sentence in the October 2008 slaying of a college student from Wantagh will do only 10 years as a result of a plea deal in which he's agreed to testify against two alleged accomplices.

That prospective 10-year sentence gave the family of University of Albany student Richard Bailey little solace, the father of the slain 22-year-old said Friday. Still, they believe the plea deal that allows one man to avoid a life sentence will help jail for life the man who pulled the trigger.

King Jamell Modest, 17, of Albany, pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted robbery earlier this month and will be sentenced March 26 to 10 years in prison and 5 years' supervised probation, Albany County officials said. Modest has agreed to testify against De Von Callicut, 19, of Rensselaer, and Ricardo Caldwell, 18, of Schenectady.

He pleaded before State Supreme Court Justice Dan Lamont in Albany County. Lamont will serve as trial judge, said Heather Orth, a spokeswoman for Albany District Attorney David Soares. She would not comment further on the plea.

James Bailey, the father of the slain student, was in Lamont's courtroom with his wife, Lisa, for that proceeding. Friday, he expressed disappointment with the sentence but said he is hopeful the plea will lead to the conviction of the shooter.

"It's tough what we're going through. It's so hard," said the retired New York City police officer. "Hopefully, the shooter is going to do the right thing and speak up. We're going to find justice. Unfortunately, we had to cop a plea with one kid."

Modest's attorney, Michael McDermott of Albany, said the plea arrangement was worked out based partly on prosecutors' theory that Modest had a smaller role in the alleged crime.

"If you look at what each one of the three defendants is alleged to have done, my client had arguably the least culpability," McDermott said. "It's a tragedy that he never foresaw. He didn't have a weapon that night and he never thought a weapon was going to be used, but under the felony murder statute, if you're involved in a robbery . . . you're responsible if someone is killed in the commission of the felony."

All three were accused of ambushing Richard Bailey as he walked to his off-campus apartment from a friend's home in Albany on Oct. 20, 2008. Bailey was shot once in the head, allegedly by Callicut, who police said went on to rob someone else minutes later. The case remained unsolved for nearly a year until police arrested the three defendants in September.

Callicut and Caldwell are being held without bail, but Callicut is serving time in state prison for an unrelated weapons offense. Their attorneys could not be reached Friday for comment.

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