Calling his actions “heinous and heartless,” a judge sentenced a 19-year-old man to 80 years in prison Tuesday in the AK-47 assault rifle killing of an unarmed mother and son outside their Baton Rouge home in 2009.
Derrick George Gordy, who was 16 at the time of the slayings, was convicted in May on two counts of manslaughter in the Sept. 30, 2009, shooting deaths of Patricia Aldridge, 40, and Ronald Thacker Jr., 21, on South Sunderland Avenue.
Gordy, whose family moved to Baton Rouge from Houston after being displaced from St. Bernard Parish by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was tried on two counts of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
State District Judge Trudy White, who presided over the trial, sentenced Gordy to 40 years on each manslaughter count — the maximum on both counts — and ordered the terms to run consecutively.
Patricia Aldridge’s husband, David Aldridge, let out a “Yes!” from the front row of the courtroom when he heard the judge pronounce that the terms would run back to back.
White, who noted that Patricia Aldridge was on her cellphone with an East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s dispatcher when she was shot 13 times, called Gordy a coward who in “animalistic fashion” used an assault rifle — referred to on the street as a “chopper” — to cut down Aldridge and Thacker. Thacker was shot four times.
“You chopped Mrs. Aldridge down in cold blood. You chopped him (Thacker) down as well,” the judge said to Gordy. “Your actions were both heinous and heartless.”
Shortly before White imposed the sentence, Gordy maintained his innocence and said, “Forgive me for being involved in something like that.”
Gordy’s mother, Tanya Grant, told the judge her son fell in with the wrong crowd after moving to Baton Rouge following four years in Houston.
David Aldridge also addressed White, saying, “This incident has changed my life considerably. I went through a lot of torment. I’m still dealing with a lot of issues. I’m trying to move on. It’s difficult.”
Gordy’s attorney, Bruce Craft, said Gordy had no prior convictions and urged the judge to deliver “justice tempered with mercy” and not impose consecutive 40-year terms. Craft acknowledged the crimes were “heinous and awful” but said a sentence would amount to a “practical life sentence.”
Prosecutor Mark Pethke described the killings as “shockingly violent.”
“Mrs. Aldridge and Mr. Thacker were doing nothing more than trying to keep their neighborhood safe,” Pethke said.
While doing so, he said, they were “slaughtered in the street in front of their house.”
White denied Craft’s motion to reconsider the sentence.
“This was a very serious and dangerous scene. The judge recognized the heinous nature of the actions of the defendant, which were cruel and deliberate. He executed two innocent people. The court’s sentence is totally appropriate,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said afterward.
David Aldridge said he had hoped for second-degree murder convictions.
“It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I’m happy,” he said outside the courtroom.
In a chilling 911 call that jurors heard in May, Patricia Aldridge tells a dispatcher that several black males had threatened one of her son’s friends outside their South Sunderland home.
A few minutes later, Aldridge is heard goading the subjects.
“C’mon, try to hit me ... uh huh ... c’mon ... here they come, here they come,’’ she said just before the call erupted into screams and a barrage of gunfire.
White reiterated Tuesday that Gordy shot Aldridge first, then Thacker as he ran to help his mother, then stood over Aldridge and fired more bullets into her body.
Jay Winters Jr. and Demario Alexander also were indicted on second-degree murder charges in the case.
Winters, 31, who testified for the prosecution, pleaded guilty in January to charges of obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the obstruction count — with credit for time served since his Oct. 1, 2009, arrest — and put on active supervised probation for five years on the accessory count.
Alexander, 18, pleaded guilty in 2010 to accessory after the fact to second-degree murder and was sentenced to five years in prison.
He was 15 at the time of the shooting.
He did not testify.