Grant sentenced to 47 years in 2012 Norwich bar fatal shooting
Editor's note: This version clarifies headline to indicate the incident was a fatal shooting.
David J. Grant was sentenced Friday in New London Superior Court to 47 years in prison in the shooting death of one woman and the wounding of another at a Norwich bar in 2012.
A 12-member jury in April found Grant guilty of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and first-degree assault for fatally shooting Donna Richardson, 45, and wounding her niece, Crystal Roderick, now 31, on June 24, 2012, at the Mai Thai Restaurant and Bar off Laurel Avenue in Norwich.
Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed found him guilty of criminal possession of a firearm. After completion of his sentence, he will be placed on 10 years of special parole.
According to testimony, Grant shot into a crowd of customers gathered on the balcony of the bar at closing time.
Relatives and friends of Donna Richardson spoke at the sentencing. They said they wanted to hate him, but they couldn't, not because he deserved their forgiveness, but because Richardson would have wanted it that way.
"'Till this day I can't believe that my sister is gone," Felicia McArthur said Friday at Grant's sentencing. "She was loving and caring and helped so many individuals. It's very easy for me not to forgive you, but I know my sister was very forgiving and she would have forgiven you. ... I'll be praying for his soul as he does time. He'll have plenty of time to think about what he has done."
Richardson's boyfriend, Stephen Roderick, also spoke at the sentencing.
"I almost hate you, but I really don't hate you," said Roderick. "I left Donna at the bar so she could have more fun. I'm never going to see her again. ... I'm never going to see her again."
Victim Crystal Roderick was present in court, but she was too emotional to speak.
Testimony at the trial indicated that Grant had moved from New York City to Norwich to sell drugs.
Grant, arrested in Baltimore six months after the shootings, admitted during a police interrogation, which was videotaped and shown to the jury, that he fired a gun into the crowd.
He said he was scared because he had just been told that Isaiah "Zay" Lee, who he said had shot a friend of his, was in the crowd. Grant had been shot himself about a year earlier, losing vision in one eye.
Prior to Jongbloed imposing her sentence, Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney told the court that Grant had "showed extreme indifference to human life when he fired into the crowd."
Carney said that Grant had a criminal record dating to 1997 when he lived in New York City and had only come to Norwich to continue his criminal activity.
Carney asked the court for a lengthy criminal sentence, noting that Grant "is here because he created the situation for himself."
Defense attorney Sebastian O. DeSantis told the court that Grant had taken responsibility for the shooting, but only took his case to trial because he was charged with murder, meaning that he intentionally set out to kill someone, when he never meant for anyone to get hurt that night.
DeSantis said that Grant had a "horrific childhood" and was exposed to countless acts of violence while growing up in the city. He said Grant can still be rehabilitated and has strong family support that will be there for him when he gets out of prison.
Relatives and friends of Grant were also present at the sentencing. His sister briefly spoke to the court and extended her condolences to the Richardson family.
Grant said he intended to read a prepared statement but instead opted to say what was on his mind.
"I didn't mean for this to happen," Grant said. "I'm sorry for what you are going through ... I'm sorry. I wish that this never happened."
Before sentencing Grant to 47 years in prison, Jongbloed said his actions were "lawless and completely reckless." She said Grant should have known better since he was a victim of gun violence.
"I have to send a message that gun violence is not acceptable," said Jongbloed said.
Grant has two counts of violation of probation that are pending. A pretrial hearing on those charges was scheduled for July 10.
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