SAN DIEGO – A 55-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Wednesday for killing a shop owner in a brutal 2018 attack that happened during a robbery at the victim’s store.
Kevin Eugene Cartwright was convicted by a jury this month on charges of first-degree murder with special circumstances in the Oct. 10, 2018 shooting death of 49-year-old Ghedeer “Tony” Radda at Bottom Price Flooring, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office said. Cartwright’s co-defendant, 38-year-old Lorena Espinoza, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges last November and was sentenced to 16 years in prison for her role.
Prosecutors say Cartright enlisted Espinoza, described as his “romantic interest,” to rob Radda’s flooring business.
Espinoza entered the building wearing a purple wig and lured Radda to the back of the store at which point Cartwright, who was in a Halloween-style old-lady mask, “stalked the victim from the front of the store.” He was said to have snuck up behind Radda before jumping him and then shooting him, according to Stephan’s office.
In a statement, Stephan said she’s “grateful” that prosecutors were able to “bring justice in this grisly murder of a business owner, who was doing his best in life.”
“Although nothing can bring the victim back, I hope his family feels a measure of justice with today’s sentence,” Stephan said.
Both Cartwright and Espinoza left the store after taking money from the store’s register, officials said. They proved difficult to find with Stephan’s office noting they hid their identities and didn’t leave DNA or fingerprints behind.
“There was no way to identify either of the defendants except for one detail,” Stephan said. “The city of San Diego had just completed installing 3,200 smart streetlamps and the footage captured the defendant taking off the granny mask in front of the street camera.”
She added, “Thanks to these cameras, we were able to identify, prosecute and convict these killers.”
In the time after his death, Radda was remembered by loved ones as a “charming, soft-spoken man with a heart of gold.”
“Ghedeer meant everything to his family,” an online tribute to him read. “Together, they have lost a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, uncle and nephew whom they loved immensely.”
Cartwright ultimately was arrested Oct. 17, 2018 in El Cajon with Espinoza taken into custody days later. In total, Cartwright was found guilty of murder, two robberies, burglary and being a felon in possession of a gun and ammunition.
He was sentenced by a judge to life plus 70 years in Radda’s murder.