Updated: 03/25/2014 5:35 PM
Created: 03/25/2014 11:17 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
A 17-year-old has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for his role in a brutal beating on St. Paul’s East Side back in August 2013.
Cindarion Butler on Jan. 14 was convicted of first-degree assault and first-degree aggravated robbery for the beating of Ray Widstrand; he was found not guilty of two counts of committing a crime for the benefit of a gang.
Back in August, Widstrand was walking through his neighborhood when he got caught in the chaos of a fight that spilled into the street from a house party. Widstrand was nearly beaten to death. Now, he's dealing with a brain injury and is missing part of his skull.
Prosecutors say Widstrand was hit in the head and knocked unconscious. They say that for 15 minutes a group of about 10 gang members repeatedly kicked, dragged and punched him. They also allegedly stripped off his shorts to rob him.
Ray Widstrand says he believes Cindarion Butler feels remorse for beating him. Butler is one of Widstrand's attackers, and he took responsibility today in court. But the judge wasn't so understanding, telling Butler it's too late, and sentencing him to double the amount of time outlined in sentencing guidelines.
Ray Widstrand is making gains. He's able to walk out of court with the help of a cane. It was a brutal beating on August 4, 2013 by 17-year-old Cindarion Butler and a handful of others, that left Widstrand with severe brain injuries.
Widstrand spoke directly to Butler in court explaining how his actions ruined his life.
"My life has come to a halt, I used to have a job, my own place... now it's like I have to recover and relearn everything," said Widstrand.
"Really emotional time, I was proud of Ray, getting up and making his statement, and saying it so well. It really meant a lot," said Ray's mother Linda Widstrand.
This all started 8 months ago when Widstrand was walking at Preble Street and Minnehaha Avenue in St. Paul. He encountered a fight, where he stopped to help a girl he didn't know. He was then kicked and stomped on while dozens of people stood by and watched.
"I was pleased the judge leaned a little more heavily because of the nature of the whole incident," said Ray's father, Peter Widstrand.
Even after all he's been through, Ray had compassion for his attacker.
"There was some sympathy, but you don't know what's inside a person's heart, only he knows that," said Widstrand.
Widstrand is going in for a 5th brain surgery next week. He hopes to someday drive again, live on his own, and get back to work.
Four people were originally arrested and charged for this crime. One juvenile was already sentenced to more than 8 years in prison. 19-year-old Issac Maiden was acquitted in November. And the last one, Charles Redding, is still set to stand trial as an adult. Redding has a hearing in court tomorrow.