LOCKPORT – Cornelius W. Redden III of Niagara Falls, who shot a drug dealer on purpose and shot himself accidentally, was hit with some harsh words from his own attorney at his sentencing Tuesday.
Redden, who pleaded guilty to three felonies Aug. 2, was sentenced to five years in prison by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas.
Angelo Musitano said of Redden, “He’s the poster child for the old TV show ‘America’s Dumbest Criminal.’ ”
“He’s not happy with you right now,” Farkas replied.
“I know. He shot himself in the foot. That’s how bad he is,” Musitano said.
On a more serious note, Musitano said Redden, 19, “was born destined to fail.” The judge said Redden was born prematurely and was addicted to crack cocaine because of the drug use of his mother.
Farkas said Redden, whose father is serving a sentence of 19 years to life in prison as a persistent felon, was placed in foster care.
As early as age 3, there were complaints about “his behavior, his cognitive skills, impulsiveness.”
The judge agreed that Redden had every strike against him before he turned to violent crime. “However, the community must be protected,” Farkas said.
Redden pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for shooting Jonathan D. Bersani May 10 in Niagara Falls. Bersani, 22, of Koons Avenue, Buffalo, a former Town of Niagara resident, later pleaded guilty to two cocaine felonies and is serving a three-year state prison sentence.
Redden also pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon for the June 2 incident in which he shot himself, and to attempted fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for having more than half a gram of crack cocaine when Falls police arrested him Oct. 9, 2012.
Musitano said that counting charges he admitted to as a youthful offender, Redden now has five felonies on his record.
Musitano said, “If he were arrested one more time with a gun, he would be a career armed criminal by federal statute. That would be a minimum of 15 years [in prison], and that’s just for starters.”
After his guilty plea, which included a sentencing cap of 8½ years, Redden dismissed his attorneys, James J. Faso Jr. and Michael H. White, and hired Musitano to try to cancel the plea deal. However, in November Musitano decided there were no grounds for withdrawing the pleas.