A Pierce County Superior Court judge Friday morning sentenced a Tacoma man to more than 27 years in prison for fatally shooting a teenager in the street nearly two years ago.
Judge Frank Cuthbertson said the low-end sentence recommended by prosecutors and Xavier Magana's defense attorney – 20 years, 10 months – was not enough.
Cuthbertson said he wanted to send a message to Magana, 20, and others that "in this community we don't tolerate senseless violence and murder."
Magana pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder in the July 2009 death of 18-year-old Aldrick Hendricks Jr. He tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his plea.
There was a history of bad blood between the two young men, court records show. Hendricks had beaten up Magana on a previous occasion.
On the day of the shooting the two had attended the same graduation party at a house near the 5500 block of East G Street. At one point, Magana challenged Hendricks to a fight, and the pair walked a short distance away from the party, records show.
Magana pulled out a pistol and fired at Hendricks, who tried to run away but was hit and went down, records show. Magana then walked up to his prone adversary and fired several more bullets into him, the records state.
He then ran away.
The victim's stepmother, Tahirah Hendricks, told Cuthbertson today Magana had no cause to shoot Hendricks once he was down. She asked for the stiffest sentence possible, saying Magana's still better off than her stepson.
"Maybe he's not living the life of luxury, but at least he's living life," Tahirah Hendricks said.
Hendricks has a young son who will never know his father, she added.
Magana's defense attorney, Jack McNeish, asked Cuthbertson to abide by the terms of the plea agreement.
Magana grew up in a tough part of town and was victimized repeatedly as a teenager, McNeish said, at one point having his throat cut during an assault.
"He grew up in a battleground. It was a battleground he didn't volunteer for. It was a battleground he wasn't trained for," the defense attorney said.
Magana then apologized to Hendrick's family, saying they "don't deserve what they're going through right now."
Cuthbertson then took his turn.
He acknowledged that the neighborhood where the shooting occurred is wracked by violence.
"I don't know what it is about our society that makes our neighborhoods into war zones," the judge said. "I don't know what it is that makes young people, especially young men, think courage comes out of a bottle of alcohol and the barrel of a gun. It really doesn't."
But the judge said Magana displayed a callous disregard for human life when he continued shooting a man who was no longer a threat to him.
"I'm not sure why I should have any more mercy on you than you had on Mr. Hendricks," Cuthbertson said before handing down a high-end sentence of 333 months.