Man gets seven years for double shooting that paralyzed one of the victims

By Joe Gorman


Judge Anthony D’Apolito is not a seer, but all the time he spent as a juvenile court magistrate before becoming a judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court he said does give him a sense of what is to come.

He told Tayquan Charlton, 20, of East Auburndale Avenue, as he was sentencing him Tuesday for a double shooting on the South Side last March that left a man paralyzed from the chest down, that he had dealt with Charlton since he was 14, and he had a bad feeling the day was coming when Charlton would be in major trouble.

“I think I saw the train coming back then much clearer than you did, and I think I told you if you didn’t change, you would be in prison or dead before you are 20,” Judge D’Apolito said.

Charlton was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of felonious assault for the March 24 shooting at Hillman Street and West Ravenwood Avenue that wounded two, including Jondale Benson, 19, who is paralyzed from the chest down.

Charlton was set to enter his pleas Monday and avert a trial that was to begin. But Judge D’Apolito said he wanted to talk to Benson and make sure he was OK with Charlton only getting a seven-year sentence.

The alternative would be a trial, but Assistant Prosecutor Nick Brevetta said he was not comfortable with a trial, which could mean a not-guilty verdict and no punishment at all.

Brevetta told the judge his main issue was only Benson and the other victim could identify Charlton as the person who shot them, and other witnesses were confused as to how many shooters there were and how many shots were fired.

Brevetta said he was not happy with the plea deal, but it at least protected society for a time and also provided Charlton some punishment for what he did.

Benson’s mother was also not happy with the deal, but added that at least it gave Charlton some punishment for what he did. She said her son’s paralysis is a life-changing event for her entire family, for Benson’s fiancee, their 5-month-old son and for Charlton’s family also.

Her son and his fiancee had their life planned, but that all changed because of the shooting, Benson’s mother said. She said her son just got a job and was minding his own business and was planning on joining the Army, when he was shot by Charlton, who he does not know.

“They had a plan and because of one day, it’s all gone,” she said.

Judge D’Apolito said that was one his dilemmas going into the case – that no punishment would be adequate for the harm done to Benson.

“I knew going into this I could not give him a pound of flesh equal to what was taken from him,” Judge D’Apolito said.

In a low, soft, voice, Benson said he was “comfortable” now because he still has his family and his child.

The judge told Benson he can still be a great father, something his mother said worried her because he would not be able to physically participate in all his son’s activities, and she appeared to be crying when the judge said that.

Charlton appeared to have been crying also. All he would say was, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Judge D’Apolito said Benson and Charlton should be enjoying what is the prime of their lives.

“This should be the best time of your life, but it’s the worst time of your life,” Judge D’Apolito told Charlton.

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