Teen sentenced to life in prison for deadly shooting at after-hours club

·3 min read

Jun. 11—A North Toledo teenager was sentenced Friday to life in prison for killing a man at an after-hours club 15 months ago.

Tacarie Cunningham, 16, of 295th Street, previously entered an Alford plea — not admitting guilt, but conceding evidence sufficient for a conviction at trial — to fatally shooting Christopher Carrington, 34, at the Antidote after-hours club, 704 W. Sylvania Ave., on March 15, 2020.

"Mr. Cunningham was a young teenager when this murder occurred. He's out at an after-hours club at age 14 or 15. He committed this murder and then apparently bragged about it online," Judge Michael Goulding said Friday.

"He acted like an adult and now he's going to be treated like one," the judge added, sentencing the youth to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

Cunningham hung his head as the judge pronounced his fate.

Cunningham, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, was at the nightclub, surrounded by adults, alcohol, and handguns and assault rifles, defense lawyer Joseph Westmeyer III told the court. Mr. Westmeyer said his young client was susceptible to others, who steered him in the wrong direction.

"There is no excuse why he was there. There is no reason why he should have been there," Mr. Westmeyer said. "I wish that someone could have gone back earlier that evening and grabbed him and said, 'You're not going there — go to bed.' But unfortunately that didn't occur."

Cunningham's daughter was born while he was in jail and he hopes to be out one day to build a relationship with her, the defense attorney said.

Cunningham, who has been incarcerated since his March 30, 2020 arrest, apologized to Mr. Carrington's relatives.

"I deeply apologize and I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive one day," he said.

But Mr. Carrington's fiancee, Marion Dotson, said she has no compassion or forgiveness for Cunningham.

Every day since his death has been a struggle for her and her children without Mr. Carrington, who was described as a family man who made positive strides in his life. He was in a place in his life "where he had no enemies," and people from all sides of town attended his funeral, she said.

"I lost nearly everything. I no longer have my best friend, my kids no longer have their father. However, we do have an unimaginable void in our lives that will never be filled," she said through sobs.

Additional charges of felonious assault and tampering with evidence were dismissed on Friday. He had been accused of shooting Mr. Carrington and then returning to the crime scene to remove shell casings from the floor, according to a criminal complaint filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Cunningham's case originated in Lucas County Juvenile Court, but it was later transferred to the general division so he would be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors said surveillance video showed Cunningham pulling a gun from his pocket and shooting the victim. During his bind-over hearing to be tried as an adult, now-retired Judge Connie Zemmelman said there was no clear motive for the shooting and there appeared to be no real reason for it.

First Published June 11, 2021, 12:20pm