Riddick sentenced

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, August 27, 2009

With the victim’s uncle and cousin sobbing silently in the gallery, a murderer was sentenced Thursday to 53 years, with 25 suspended, for his actions.

Mikell Deshawn Riddick received an active sentence of 28 years for second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The charges stemmed from a March 24, 2008 incident in which Riddick “ambushed” Jamar Deangelo Winfield with a semi-automatic weapon.

Evidence presented by attorneys in court painted opposing pictures of what happened that day.

According to prosecutors, Riddick and a friend, Charles Powell, were driving on Wilson Street in downtown when they saw Jamar Winfield driving an SUV. Winfield had three passengers, including his cousin, Anthony Winfield, prosecutors said.

After seeing the group, Riddick pulled behind a house beside the L&T Grocery store on Wellons Street and waited for the vehicle to pass. He readied a semi-automatic handgun and told Powell, “Watch this,” according to prosecutor Kenneth Phillips. Phillips and another prosecutor, Ann Poindexter, were appointed as special prosecutors from Chesapeake, because Riddick was represented by Grier Ferguson, the brother of Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson.

“It’s almost like he was proud of what he was about to do,” Phillips told Judge Westbrook J. Parker.

Riddick fired the weapon at the vehicle from a distance of about 30 yards, striking Winfield in the neck and severing his carotid artery, Phillips said. The SUV careened down the street, nearly striking several pedestrians, including two little girls, the prosecutor said.

Once the vehicle came to a stop, Anthony Winfield pulled his cousin out of the car and propped him up against the side of the vehicle, Phillips said.

“He takes both hands and tries to stem the bleeding,” Phillips said. “(Winfield was) choking on his own blood.”

By the time the rescue squad arrived at the scene, Winfield was not breathing.

“This victim bled to death over there on Lee Street,” Phillips said.

Riddick, however, told the judge he shot in self-defense.

“I acted in self-defense to save my life,” Riddick said. “I was scared for my life … I apologize to the Winfield family.”

Grier Ferguson, Riddick’s attorney, said Riddick believed he saw a gun being aimed at him from the passing vehicle — and there was a gun in the car, the prosecution acknowledged.

Poindexter, however, countered the gun was not a factor in the case.

“It was an old, rusty gun, it was not loaded, and it was in the back under a blanket,” Poindexter said, pointing out that the occupants likely would not have been able to reach the gun in the back of the SUV.

“His client was in no danger,” she said.

Ferguson also said the victim had been hostile to the Riddick weeks before the shooting, and the attorney asked the judge for a sentence that would allow Riddick to “get out before he’s an old man.”

“The prisons are already overpacked with people who don’t need to be there anymore,” Ferguson said.

During a victim impact statement, Winfield’s uncle said his nephew’s death left two young boys without their father.

“It’s been very stressful on the two young ladies that he had kids by,” his uncle said, adding that one of the children was 7 or 8 years old and the other 2 years old.

Anthony Winfield also “feels like it’s partially his fault,” his father said.

“They were pretty close.”

Before announcing his sentence, Parker decried the culture of violence.

“Young people today think guns are the answer to everything,” he said.

Riddick received 40 years with 15 years suspended on the murder charge, three years on the use of a firearm charge, and 10 years with all suspended for shooting into an occupied vehicle.