Pittsburgh man sentenced for 2011 Father's Day killing
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A Fineview man convicted of firing into a crowd at a Father's Day picnic last year, killing one man and wounding an innocent bystander, was sentenced Tuesday to at least 20 years in prison.
Rayshawn Edwards, 21, insisted to Allegheny County Judge Anthony Mariani that he was not the man who opened fire on the party in the 1700 block of Belleau Drive, killing Christopher Jones, 27, of Hazelwood, and wounding Christina Mathews, 49.
"I don't understand why I'm being sentenced," he said, standing before the judge in shackles. "I didn't do it."
Mr. Edwards said a witness who identified him as the shooter was mistaken.
But Judge Mariani, who convicted Edwards of third-degree murder following a three-day bench trial in March, said evidence at the trial indicated the witness knew Edwards prior to the shooting and gave credible testimony that he was the gunman.
The judge said he is fully aware of the problems of unreliable eye-witness identification in prosecutions around the country. But credibility is usually an issue only when the gunman is unknown.
"I don't accept your denial," he told Edwards. "I don't think a mistake was made here."
The judge said Edwards walked out from behind a building with his "gun ablaze," firing into a crowd that included children.
Ms. Mathews, who was talking to a friend when a bullet hit her in the hip, testified briefly that she has undergone four surgeries since being shot, including a hip replacement, because of Edwards' indiscriminate gunfire.
"I'm constantly in pain," she told the judge. "I didn't ask to be like this."
The judge said Edwards' conduct was "as severe as it gets" and he deserved a harsh sentence far beyond the minimum. He also noted that Edwards has numerous prior convictions, including one for punching a police officer, and has shown no indication of interest in rehabilitation.
In addition to homicide, Judge Mariani sentenced him for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
Edwards said he would appeal.
First Published June 13, 2012 12:00 am