Superior Court Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed sentenced 24-year-old Darnell Moore to 53 years in prison Tuesday for what she described as "the cold, calculated, almost-point-blank shooting" of Namdi Smart in August 2010 on Lake Street in Norwich.
A jury had convicted Moore in December.
"You walked up to the victim, Mr. Smart, in the street, and as the evidence showed, shot him in the head," the judge told Moore.
The shooting took place in front of a Lake Street apartment building where a group of people had gathered to drink and smoke drugs.
"He was angry after being 'jacked up,' " said Prosecutor David J. Smith.
Witnesses had testified that Moore, known as "Boo-Boo," and Smart, known as "Dee," argued over a bottle of vodka and Smart ripped Moore's shirt. They said Moore left after telling Smart, "I'll be back," and making a shooting gesture with his fingers.
Moore called a friend, Samuel Gomez, who testified he brought a .45-caliber pistol from New London to Norwich and gave it to Moore. Gomez said he dropped Moore off at the scene, heard a pop, and that Moore came back to the car with the gun.
Five women who were at the apartment building testified they saw Moore return to the scene and, in some cases, that they saw him shoot Smart in the neck.
Moore initially intended not to speak at his sentencing but changed his mind. Wearing tan prison scrubs, handcuffs and leg irons, he stood up and proclaimed his innocence. He had chosen not to testify at his trial.
"I sat there and said nothing, thinking justice would be served," he said. "I really think it's because of that Newtown shooting that I was found guilty."
Deliberations began on Dec. 14, 2012, the day a man walked into the Sandy Hook elementary school and gunned down 20 children and six adults. Defense attorney Norman A. Pattis said he had considered moving for a mistrial because jurors may have been angered by the shooting. Pattis said he had been "radicalized" about guns even before the massacre, because of their easy access, but that "nobody cares until a bunch of white kids" are killed.
Pattis had moved to strike the jury panel after noting his client, an African American, would not be tried by a jury of his peers due to what was mostly "a lily white jury pool."
Pattis asked the judge to impose the minimum sentence for murder, which is 25 years in prison.
Prosecutor Smith called for the maximum sentence of 60 years, noting Moore already had a history of violence, including a recent conviction for an armed robbery, and that he has accrued 36 disciplinary tickets in prison.
"Mr. Moore is not the victim in this case," Smith said. "Mr. Moore is a cold-blooded murderer."
Moore's parents and other family members attended the entire trial. They were at the sentencing but chose not to address the court.