Editor’s note: A previous version of this story contained a photo of a man not charged with Hernandez’s death. The photo has since been removed. We apologize for the error.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A good example of how overwhelming the numbers are in the 2019 shooting death of Crystal Hernandez is Friday’s docket in the courtroom of Judge Anthony Donofrio in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Six men, five charged directly in her death, began learning their sentences at 11 a.m. Friday.
The sixth defendant sentenced pleaded guilty to a shooting that was part of the feud that led to her death.
Another man is already serving 30 years to life for her murder and her boyfriend is also serving a prison sentence. Another person, a friend of her boyfriend’s, was killed later.
That’s nine people charged in one way or another with a string of violence that culminated in the Jan. 24, 2019, shooting death of Hernandez in the McBride Street apartment she shared with her boyfriend.
The first of those defendants, Maurice Redrick, 21, was sentenced to an agreed upon sentence of 23 years after he pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter with a firearm specification and conspiracy.
Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Trapp said it was Redrick who called a friend to supply the guns used, including an AK-47 rifle.
Trapp said 53 rounds from four different weapons were fired at the apartment and Hernandez was killed by an AK-47 round.
“There was a lot of firepower that night,” Trapp said. “This is simply gun violence’s natural consequence: Someone winds up dead.”
Nivea Ramos, the mother of Hernandez, told the judge she mourns for her daughter every day.
Reading a statement from her phone as Trapp put an arm on her shoulder to comfort her, Ramos said her daughter’s death has halted her life.
“It will forever be a deep wound in my heart and the hearts of my family,” she said.
Ramos said she has held a lot of jobs as an adult, but the most important is being a mother and grandmother.
“There is an emptiness inside me that will never leave,” Ramos said.
In a brief statement, Redrick said the time he has spent in jail has forced him to grow up. He did not, however, apologize.
“When I return to society I will be different,” Redrick said.
Judge Donfrio said all the defendants in the case were so young they were too young to realize how their actions affect others.
“Apparently none of you ever learned that life is about choices,” Judge Donofrio said. “This incident touched countless lives and now you will suffer the consequences.”
Testimony in the trial of the only person who opted to have his case heard by a jury, Larenz Rhodes, 20, showed that the boyfriend of Hernandez, Gabriel Smith, and another man, Lavonte Perry, were feuding with a group of men and they had shot at each other throughout the day in various places on the east side.
It was not made clear what the feud was about.
Rhodes and the others went to shoot up the apartment Smith lived in but hit Hernandez instead. Her toddler son, whose father is Smith, was also inside at the time but was unharmed. Smith was not in the apartment at the time of the shooting.
Smith pleaded guilty to felonious assault for his role in the shootings that led up to the attack on his apartment and is in prison. Perry was killed in an unrelated homicide almost a year later.
Also sentenced to 23 years in prison was Marquise Torres, 22, who pleaded guilty to the same charges Redrick did. That sentence was also agreed upon.
Mark Carofolo, Torres’ attorney, said his client never intended to hurt anyone and even though he had a .22-caliber handgun with him there was no evidence he ever fired it.
Carofolo said his client is remorseful and prays for Hernandez daily. Torres declined an opportunity to speak.
Judge Donofrio said he found it hard to believe Torres never meant to hurt anyone. He said Torres was released early from prison on a gun charge and he certainly knew what guns can do.
Also sentenced for involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy with a firearm specification but receiving 20-year prison terms were Burton McGee, 21; Johntez Scrivens, 22; and Joquaun Blair, 24.
Sentenced to seven years for felonious assault with a firearm specification was Marteze Daniels, 20. Daniels is accused of taking part in one of the shootings involving Perry and Smith.
All the sentences were agreed upon by defense attorneys and prosecutors.