Updated 05/15/2012 04:15 PM
Saquan Evans sentenced for shooting toddler
Forty years in prison, at least, for the man convicted in the murder that captured the Syracuse community's attention, although not enough for the area's district attorney.
Saquan Evans was sentenced Tuesday morning in the death of 20-month-old Rashaad Walker Jr. Kat De Maria has more.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- There were a lot of emotions after the verdict at trial in March. But Tuesday, Evans was still maintaining his innocence, the two families were still arguing in the halls of the courthouse and in the street.
District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick wasn't sounding optimistic about ridding Syracuse of its gang problem. And he said as far as his office heard via letters and e-mails, people were concerned more about eight swan eggs that were destroyed in Manlius last month than this little baby's very much untimely death.
"Out of respect for that little boy, don't ever let him see the light of day again as a free man."
To the extent possible, Judge John Brunetti heeded the plea of Onondaga County's district attorney as he sentenced Saquan Evans to 40 years to life in prison for the November 2010 murder of 20-month-old Rashaad Walker Jr. The DA called little Rashaad the "quintessential innocent victim" who was sitting in his car seat when Evans, out targeting members of the wrong gang for the death of his friend, fired at the baby's father.
Evans also faces federal charges for little Rashaad's death and his alleged involvement in the Bricktown Gang, as do others. But the DA says for people like Evans, no punishment is enough.
"You can hang a gang member in Columbus Circle and let Saquan Evans walk by it every day and he's still going to do what he does. He is incapable of being deterred. It's that type of mindset that is difficult for law enforcement to address," said Fitzpatrick.
Those comments by the DA are mild compared with what he said at sentencing: Calling Evans the dumbest criminal he's ever prosecuted, among other things.
Evans, who did not testify at trial, spoke for the first time Tuesday, expressing sympathy to little Rashaad's parents and claiming his innocence.
"I'm in this situation because I refuse to...I was loyal to so-called friends."
“He's my brother. I'm going to stand by him 100 percent, regardless of what they say. He's a good person, he has a good heart. And only God knows his heart and he knows the truth," said Brittney Evans, sister of Saquan Evans.
Despite multiple vigils and a rowdy trial, the DA says there has not been enough outrage over the death of little Rashaad.
"What does it take? If not Rashaad Walker, tell me what it takes," Fitzpatrick said.
The DA says his solutions are revamping gun laws and the welfare system. That doesn't do much though for the family of little Rashaad.