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Man gets 40 years in prison for Oldsmar kidnapping that led to death

LARGO — Abandoned by his family, Abdusbasiyr Blake spent most of his teenage years living in a group foster home.

He'll likely spend most of his adult years behind bars.

Blake, 20, was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison on convictions of second-degree murder and kidnapping.

Blake was 18 years old when he and two other teenagers forced a man into a car at gunpoint in Oldsmar in September 2008.

The three teens — Blake, Javon Strange and Juan Carlos Morales — kidnapped Gregory Longley because they believed he could lead them to another man they were looking for in a dispute over missing coins, authorities said.

Their plan went awry when Longley grabbed a loaded gun from Strange's lap and shot him in the head.

Strange, 18, died at the scene. Morales was injured when Longley shot him, too. Longley acted in self-defense and was not charged, authorities said.

The State Attorney's Office charged Blake and Morales with second-degree murder under a Florida law that says a person who commits a felony crime bears responsibility if another person dies during the commission of the crime.

In a separate trial in July, Morales, now 19, was convicted of kidnapping, but acquitted of murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

On Friday, Blake's court-appointed attorney, Cynthia Bryant, asked Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico to consider sentencing Blake as a youthful offender.

According to the director of the foster home, Blake was a "responsible and well-behaved" teenager who earned his GED and had registered for college before he timed out of the foster care program.

Blake never intended for anyone to die and instead got caught up in a situation that spiralled out of control the night of Sept. 7, 2008, Bryant said.

Bryant also pointed to comments Longley made to the St. Petersburg Times at Blake's October trial, in which he said he did not think that Blake should have been charged with murder.

"He (Blake) didn't kill anyone," Longley said then.

But Federico said Blake needed to be held accountable for his participation in the kidnapping, which ultimately led to Strange's death. And a lack of familial support does not excuse the crimes, Federico said.

"People are still responsible for their actions," he said. "They have choices to make."

"The world is a safer place" with both Blake and Morales off the street, Federico said.

"I think that the judge imposed justice in this case," said assistant state attorney Jeremiah Allen. "It's obviously been a long haul to prosecute these two individuals … and we're very happy and pleased with the outcome."

Bryant called the case tragic.

"We were hoping for more leniency, but in light of (Morales') sentence, we're glad it wasn't life," Bryant said.

There were no family members in the courtroom for Blake or Strange.

But a friend of Blake's spoke briefly on his behalf.

Ashley Pedata, 21, said Blake was a good person with a "big heart."

It's sad, she said after the verdict, that a young man who never pulled the trigger will spend most of his life in prison.

"He's just going to come out knowing how to be an inmate," she said.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Man gets 40 years in prison for Oldsmar kidnapping that led to death 12/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2010 7:59pm]
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