A woman who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for her role in the robbery and killing of an East Village businessman inside his flooring materials store was sentenced Friday to 16 years to life in state prison.
Lorena Espinoza, 38, was charged along with Kevin Eugene Cartwright, 54, in the Oct. 10, 2018, shooting death of 49-year-old Ghedeer “Tony” Radda.
Prosecutors said Espinoza entered Radda’s business — Bottom Price Flooring at 1015 G St. — while wearing a purple wig and lured the victim to the back of the store, where he was fatally shot by Cartwright.
Cartwright was charged with murder and is awaiting trial. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Several of Radda’s family members attended Espinoza’s sentencing hearing, with Radda’s older sister, Ghayda Young, addressing the court.
Young said her brother “worked his way up from nothing” to establish his own flooring business downtown and said she not only mourns for herself, but for Radda’s wife and two daughters, who were aged 5 and 8 at the time of his death.
Referencing surveillance footage captured from inside the store, Young said she watched Cartwright “viciously attack” her brother and Espinoza “stand there as Ghedeer lay suffering on the ground.”
Footage played during the defendants’ preliminary hearing showed Espinoza and Radda walking toward the back of the store, while the gunman — dressed in all black and wearing a Halloween-style old-lady mask — slipped behind the pair toward the cash register.
He then sneaked toward the back of the business where the victim was talking with Espinoza and attacked him, though the shooting occurred off- camera.
Prosecutors allege that after he shot Radda, Cartwright went to the register and forced it open with a pry bar while Espinoza stood at the entrance and acted as a lookout.
Though Espinoza told law enforcement she was threatened to take part in the robbery, Young said she rejected the theory that she was forced against her will, saying Espinoza “had so many opportunities to help” Radda.
After making off with cash, the pair left the business and walked away in opposite directions, with Espinoza westbound on G Street toward the GMC Yukon SUV they drove to the scene, and Cartwright eastbound, according to prosecutors.
Cartwright was arrested Oct. 17 and Espinoza was taken into custody about two weeks later.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Greco said smart streetlight cameras in the downtown area helped identify Espinoza, whose distinctive tattoos were captured on camera when she got into the SUV about three blocks away from the scene of the shooting.
The prosecutor described Radda as “a towering figure in his family and in his community” and said the victim’s giving nature revealed “a sad irony” in the case, as Greco said Radda “would have given money to people in need, like the defendant, if they had asked for it.”
–City News Service