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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life term for Kāne'ohe killing

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jerrico Lindsey

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Benjamin Grajed

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Jerrico Lindsey, 29, was sentenced yesterday to spend the rest of his days in prison for the May 2007 murder of drug dealer Benjamin Grajeda in the middle of a busy Kāne'ohe street.

"You have got to be locked up for a very long time," Circuit Judge Steven Alm said in sentencing Lindsey, 29, to life in prison plus 90 more years of incarceration.

Alm called the murder a "brazen, dangerous" act that threatened passers-by and warranted the stiff sentence for "the protection of the public."

For his second-degree-murder conviction, Alm sentenced Lindsey, the son of a school teacher who came here from Alabama in 2005, to life behind bars with the possibility of parole. Alm added 90 more years for separate offenses, including kidnapping, robbery and firearms charges.

The sentence came after Lindsey's mother, Debra Butler, asked for mercy, echoing her son's claims that co-defendant William Freeman Jr., 37, committed the murder.

Butler said her son is "a God-fearing man" who has supported charitable causes and financially supported underprivileged children on Maui and Leeward O'ahu.

"This injustice that has been bestowed upon him will be challenged, because Jerrico was raised to love everybody," Butler said.

Lindsey is not the "monster" that he has been depicted to be by news media and prosecutors, she said.

Defense attorney Thomas Otake said Lindsey has no previous criminal convictions as an adult and successfully operated his own clothing store on Maui.

Otake argued that a life sentence was adequate punishment for his crimes.

Lindsey did not address the judge because he is is planning an appeal of his conviction.

Deputy Prosecutor Darrell Wong said Lindsey engaged in a "brazen and bold shooting" of a type "that has never before occurred here on the streets."

"In considering the violence and viciousness of his crimes, consecutive sentences is no doubt appropriate," Wong continued.

Lindsey , Freeman and Reginald Pettway attacked Grajeda at his Kāne'ohe home, believing that he had drugs and cash in the house, according to trial testimony.

They beat him and kidnapped him after finding no drugs or cash, putting him in the trunk of their getaway car.

After Grajeda escaped from the trunk and ran down the middle of Kāne'ohe Bay Drive, Wong said, Lindsey got out of the car and fired at least 22 rounds from a semi-automatic assault weapon at the victim.

Stray bullets penetrated the wall of a nearby residence, and one lodged in a sofa of the home, according to Wong.

Alm noted that after Lindsey shot Grajeda multiple times and turned to go back to his car, Grajeda was still alive and trying to crawl away.

"You did turn around and give him a few more blasts," Alm said.

The hearing began when Otake asked to withdraw from the case, saying that he represents one of several inmates that Lindsey wants to call as witnesses in a motion for a new trial. Those inmates would testify that Freeman made statements in prison implicating himself as the killer, Otake said.

Alm said that there was no motion for a new trial before him and directed Otake to continue.