Randy Alexandre, the 23-year-old man a jury found guilty of attempted manslaughter after he and two other men fired their guns at a house on Kalamazoo Trail in Palm Coast two years ago, was sentenced to seven years in prison followed by seven years on probation today.
The court’s sentencing guidelines set a minimum of 19 months, a maximum of 20 years.
Alexandre and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Bill Bookhammer, had both pleaded with the court to limit the sentence to much less than that–Alexandre asked for probation or house arrest only–but Circuit Judge Terence Perkins wasn’t going to be that lenient.
Alexandre had been charged with attempted second degree murder. The woman inside the house was pregnant, but was not injured. The jury found him guilty of the lesser offense of attempted manslaughter, though he still faced potentially steep prison time. The prosecution wanted 10 years in prison.
It’s the number of shots Alexandre fired into the house at 34 Kalamazoo Trail that January evening that especially outraged the prosecutor.
“This particular case is a very violent offense that took place in a residential neighborhood 6:30 at night. Fortunately, nobody was injured, but that was just by sheer luck,” Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark told the judge. Alexandre, who was 21 at the time, “fired 27 separate rounds at the house,” she said. “He pulled that trigger 27 times, fired it at a house where there was a car sitting in the driveway,” Clark continued. “So logic would tell you there could be somebody in that house. That didn’t stop him. So this wasn’t a situation where he fired once and regretted what he was doing. He consciously decided to pull that trigger 27 times.”
Alexandre had also made it clear to his buddies, who were with him that evening, that he hadn’t driven all the way up here from South Florida not to fire his guns. “I didn’t come all this way for nothing. We are shooting up the house,” he told Paul “Paulo” Pajotte and Jamey “JuJu” Bennett.
The woman inside was pregnant and on the phone when the bullets flew. Three bullets penetrated the house.
Pajotte, 26, pleaded out and was sentenced to five years in prison last July, followed by five years on probation. He’s now at a medium-security prison in Lowell, called the Marion Work Camp.
Jamey Bennett, who was 18, was shot dead allegedly by 15-year-old Da’Mari Barnes a year later in an ostensibly unrelated incident at a bonfire party near Matanzas High School. The Barnes case is in its pre-trial phase.
Alexandre, his voice unsteady, read a statement to the court from the podium, standing next to Bookhammer. He expressed his “deepest apologies” to the woman who was in the house, apologized to the homeowner on Kalamazoo Trail, to the Sheriff’s Office, to local residents and to the judge. He had never stepped foot in Flagler County before (he’s from Miami), and being a father himself, he told Perkins–he has a young daughter–he did not condone acts of violence. “I come from a God-fearing, law-abiding family and we are very involved in our church as well as our community,” he said. “I have not one time during my incarceration been able to sleep without night terrors at [the woman’s] pain and suffering.”
“I know I will not be forgiven, ” he said, “but I know that it takes a man to acknowledge his wrongdoing.” He said he was not a monster, then shifted his focus on his future, appealing to the judge’s mercy regarding his age and his responsibilities, taking care of his parents, especially his diabetic father. He also quoted scriptures. But there was little in his statement that did not echo similar self-abnegation, or choked up emotions, by individuals facing a long stint in prison.
According to his attorney, he had gone to trial, rather than accept a plea, because he needed to take care of his parents. A trial gave him the chance to be exonerated, though his DNA was on the gun that fired the most rounds and the story Alexandre gave in his defense–involving what sounded like magic that would have left a distance between him and the guns–was not believable to the jury.
Bookhammer feared for Alexandre, once he would be isolated from his family in the prison system. What happens is when you’re young, you go to prison, it changes you, and most of the time not for the better,” Bookhammer said, speaking in understatements about a prison system little different from an atrocity.
Bookhammer said his client is the type of person who would need only a day in jail never to have to go back to jail again. “At some point, Randy Alexander is going to be released from incarceration and I want this good that I’ve seen in him right now to still be in him when he’s released,” Bookhammer said. “That’s why I’m asking for the absolute minimum sentence that the court can impose.”
“You know, the primary purpose of the punishment code is punishment,” the prosecutor retorted. “This was a violent random act of violence.” Clark again mentioned the 27 shots.
“I know in this setting, it’s hard to really get the essence of a person to know who they are,” Perkins said, just before pronouncing sentence. “I do know that this is the first charges against Mr. Alexander.” He conceded that the incident doesn’t define Alexandre, and that he took his qualities in account. But Alexandre had stood outside of a house and emptied one or two magazines’ worth of bullets at the house and the vehicle in front of it. “And I don;t know how that same person can do those things,” he said.
He then imposed the seven years followed by seven on probation, plus restitution and no contact with the victim or Pajotte.
“I do find from Mr. Alexander’s testimony to the court that he does have a sense of what happened, “Perkins said, “and I did not detect that at the time he testified at trial.”