THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Saying he had gravitated to the Crips rather than to his “blood family” who loved him, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks sent Benjamin Besteder, Jr., to prison Tuesday for 37 years.
Besteder, 19, of 523 Cadillac Ct. leaned out a car window May 25 and fired at least five shots from a semiautomatic gun into a crowd of people watching a softball game at Robinson Park. He was found guilty following a jury trial earlier this month of three counts of felonious assault and one count of discharge of a firearm upon or over a public road or highway, each with firearms specifications.
“This defendant says with tremendous pride that he is a member of the X Blocc Crips — thugs — people that want to push the community around,” Judge Franks said.
The shots Besteder fired struck and wounded Ernest Reed, 26, at the park at Forest and Grand avenues, while two shots struck a parked ice cream truck with two people — Egbert and Azzie Flanagan — inside.
The judge said she was “taken aback” by the brazen nature of the violent crime.
“You are a very, very dangerous individual,” she told Besteder before sentencing him to the maximum prison term — consecutive terms of eight years on each charge plus five years for the gun specification.
Defense attorney Adrian Cimerman told the court Besteder was “easily manipulated" and had “made poor decisions.” He said his client had no prior felony convictions and pointed out that Besteder had refused a plea agreement offered before his trial that called for a maximum of 11 years in prison.
Lindsay Navarre, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, reminded Judge Franks that the plea agreement was not offered because of problems with the evidence but only because some of the witnesses were fearful about coming forward to testify.
Besteder declined to make a statement when given the opportunity.
Mr. Cimerman said his client planned to appeal and asked the judge to appoint an attorney to represent him.