Shooting ‘was a setup,’ victim’s mom tells judge, who then orders 6 years

By Peter H. Milliken


A murder victim’s mother told a judge her life will forever be impacted by the man who callously took her son’s life.

Marcus T. Rutledge, 26, of Brookline Avenue, drew a six-year prison sentence Friday from Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Rutledge pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Darrick Hall on the city’s North Side. The six-year term is the minimum prison time available for his crime.

Rutledge originally was charged with aggravated murder in the Oct. 4, 2009, shooting death of Hall, 23, of East Marion Avenue.

Rutledge, however, entered into an agreement with the prosecution to plead guilty to the lesser charge and avoid a trial.

“There is no excuse for that. None. None whatsoever,” Hall’s mother, Natarasha Gillam of Youngstown, said of the slaying, in which she said her son was shot 23 times.

“This was planned. This was a setup,” she said, adding that her son was shot after he left a party. “He should not be breathing at all,” Gillam said of Rutledge.

A highly emotional Gillam said her life has consisted of “nothing but pain” since she was awakened by a 2:37 a.m. telephone call notifying her that her son had been injured.

She said her heart stopped as she attended her son’s funeral and she had to be hospitalized then, and that she suffers from cancer. Gillam used crutches, and her breathing was labored as she made her tearful victim-impact statement.

Judge Evans sentenced Rutledge to three years in prison for the manslaughter, plus three mandatory consecutive years in prison for the firearm specification.

Rutledge could have been sent to prison for up to 10 years on the manslaughter charge, plus three years for the gun specification, for a total of 13 years.

An apologetic Rutledge told the judge he accepts full responsibility for his actions, but he asked for leniency and said he’d try to further his education in prison to enable him to be a productive citizen upon his release.

Defense lawyer Mark Lavelle said the evidence against his client was sketchy and the plea deal was a compromise to avoid an “all-or-none” result from a trial, in which his client could be convicted on the original charge or acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Rutledge’s co-defendant, Earl L. Charity III, 26, of Delaware Avenue, is scheduled for a jury trial on an aggravated-murder charge beginning July 30 before Judge Evans.

Hall was shot multiple times at 2 a.m. and left to die at North Avenue and Arlington Street. Police found Hall lying in the grass on North Avenue about 150 feet north of Arlington.

Because Charity’s case is still pending, Jennifer McLaughlin, an assistant county prosecutor, declined to comment on the motive for the slaying or other aspects of the case.

Rutledge will get credit for the 554 days he already has been jailed awaiting disposition of this case, and he’ll be on parole for five years after he leaves prison.

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