ST. PETERSBURG — A judge Monday sentenced a 17-year-old to six years in state prison for his role in a crime that angered St. Petersburg and spurred debate about the city's safety: the shooting of an undercover police officer.
Shaheed Wright was facing a maximum sentence of 10 years after already pleading guilty to the robbery of the Exxon station at 3061 First Ave. N. He's not the one who fired the gun.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Richard Luce considered Wright's nonshooting role in the crime when he sentenced him as an adult but under a "youthful offender" classification that will incarcerate him with inmates between the ages of 16 to 24 in a facility that will offer continued education and training.
The 520 days he has spent in jail and the 16 days he has spent in a juvenile facility will be subtracted from his sentence. He could also be released early for good behavior.
"Some people stumble once," Luce said to Wright. "I hope that's the only stumble you have in your life. If you're back here in this courtroom, we will be talking about hard time."
A Pinellas County jail corrections social worker, Janice Kicklighter, told Luce before the sentencing that Wright had expressed remorse for the shooting and showed promise as a student. Afterward, Kicklighter said Luce's decision was a good one.
"I'm glad he did catch a break," Kicklighter said. "He will do right by that."
Assistant State Attorney Kendall Davidson had asked for the entire 10 years. But he said afterward that Luce's decision wasn't a surprise.
Wright didn't speak Monday. In an earlier hearing, in which Wright pleaded guilty to the robbery, he said, "I generally consider myself a respectful kid who has a good heart. Unfortunately, I was a responsible kid that made an irresponsible decision." He added that "sorry and regret sits deeply in my heart and remorse always comes to mind. Sorry is the least I can say for my actions."
He also told the judge, "I ask for a second chance at life."
State records show that in 2008 Wright was arrested for burglary in Orlando. But the charge was dropped.
His defense attorney, Barry Cobb, suggested a sentence "in the neighborhood of three years' prison and three years' probation," plus getting his GED and performing community service work.
The robbery, which took place in January 2009, involved three teenagers, one of whom had a gun. Police said the teens stole a DVD and cash, with a total worth of about $139. As they emerged from the store, police were waiting. Two undercover detectives had called for backup after seeing the teens on bicycles nearby. Something — police wouldn't say what — made them suspicious.
One of the detectives ordered the fleeing teens to stop. The teen with the gun fired several times at the officer, hitting him multiple times. He underwent surgery, and has since recovered and returned to undercover work.