By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
Spud's family was blindsided by such a lengthy sentence for a first-time offender. The morning of the sentencing, says Donna Webb, Littleton came into the courtroom and told them that "he had done the best he could and that Lavell was going to be put in. Well, that was devastating, but, still, he also did say that he probably wouldn't do more than 18 months. An hour or so later we go into the courtroom and the judge sentences him to three years on the ACA charge and 10 years on the robbery charge, and then makes a statement that says, 'Are you aware of the 85 percent rule?' And the answer is no, never knew that." The family's outrage is now directed at Littleton. They say he left them in the dark about the threat of an extended stay in jail.
Webb says that Littleton never informed them that probation was not possible on a charge of armed criminal action and that he never attempted to negotiate a plea bargain.
Littleton denies that he misadvised the family. "I believe I sent a letter to him explaining the range of punishment and what could happen in the case," he says. "But I thought that it was a travesty. Certainly what happened in the case was very serious, the charges were serious, but I thought it was a travesty with respect to the sentence he received. Him being a first offender, first felony offense, it was serious, but it was within the court's discretion, and the court giving him the minimum on the robbery first. I don't know. When you're in the business, you see tough cases. I thought he was a good kid." When Spud's family appealed the sentence, saying Littleton provided inadequate counsel, the appellate court denied the motion.
Spud's family has now retained Scott Rosenblum as their lawyer. "I'm reviewing all his options," he says, "and certainly, at this stage in the appellate process, it's an uphill battle."
What frustrates Spud's family is not only the lengthy sentence he received but also the fact that the man who did the shooting is walking free. "I am not by any means saying that Lavell did not have a part," says Donna Webb, "because, again, I recognize the fact that had you not done something, or had you done something, this would be different. Do you get away scot-free? No, you can't. We've had that conversation. But do you pay the total price for something that someone else did?"
"So often our young men, our youth," adds grandmother Regina, "are not really given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to sentencing. What they saw was, a young black boy shot a white boy. And my understanding is that he did not do the shooting and they know who did the shooting -- so if you know that this young man has a record, and he knows the ropes, and he did the shooting, why does Lavell have to pay the full price? I don't know the law, and I was so upset over this situation because I knew Lavell is not a violent person.
"Like Lavell says, 'I'm not a criminal, Granny, I'm not a criminal.' He says, 'I know I'm in here, and I know I did wrong, but I'm not a criminal.'"