Rome man receives maximum sentence for murder at Red Carpet Inn, lashes out at judge
It's been nearly a year since Benjamin Davis was found shot to death at a Red Carpet Inn in Rome. His family said it hasn't been the same since.
"On November 15, 2020, our lives were ripped apart and changed forever," Davis' mother, Sadie LeSane, said, recounting when the family was contacted about her son's death. "Sometimes I still hear that knock on my door."
Family of the 28-year-old Milton man spoke Friday in Oneida County Court at the sentencing of Wilfredo Cotto Jr., who pleaded guilty to Davis' murder last month.
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"The last time I saw him, he was so happy," Davis' sister Shakeena LeSane said.
She said her brother was looking forward to spending time with his son and always was the "fun uncle" to his nieces and nephews.
"Mr. Cotto, you took that all away," she said.
Cotto, 41, of Rome, pleaded guilty Sept. 3 to felony second-degree murder as well as two counts of felony second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
In court Friday, Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Todd Carville said Davis was shot three times, including twice from behind as he ran down the motel hallway.
"As Benjamin Davis was fleeing for his life and posed absolutely no threat," Carville added.
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In court, Cotto apologized to Davis' family as well as his own, but said Davis' death was not intentional and that his memory of that day was "like a fog."
"I'm not a killer," he said.
But Judge Robert Bauer said Cotto's statement Friday varied from an incredibly detailed recollection he gave in his presentencing investigation.
"For you to say you did not mean to kill that man, that's a lie," he said. "You can't shoot somebody as many times as you did, in the back, no less, and not intend to take the life of another human being."
He added past charges of robbery and burglary painted a picture of "someone that preys upon the weak."
"You say you're not a monster," Bauer said. "I'm not so sure."
Cotto shouted at the judge for "being disrespectful" and attempted to leave the room, launching into a tirade as he was brought back by court officers and threatening to kill the judge and prosecutor.
He received an indeterminate sentence of 23 years to life in state prison for the charge of second-degree murder, as well as two sentences of 15 years in prison with five years post-release supervision; the sentences will run concurrently.
H. Rose Schneider is the public safety reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Rome man sentenced for murder at Red Carpet Inn