CLEVELAND (AP) — A judge in Cleveland citing prolonged physical and psychological abuse as a child, mental health problems and years of incarceration, sentenced a 21-year-old man to life in prison with no chance for parole on Monday instead of accepting a jury’s recommendation for the death penalty.
Douglas Shine Jr. showed no emotion when Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joan Synenberg told a crowded courtroom the deprivations in Shine’s life outweighed the circumstances of his crimes in her sentence.
Testimony during the trial’s death penalty phase showed that Shine’s early childhood was “chaotic and “characterized by persistent neglect and physical and psychological abuse,” Synenberg said. She noted that Shine lived in youth detention facilities from age 10 to 16 followed by two years in an adult prison.
“Douglas was clearly a child who needed attention,” Synenberg said.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty issued a statement ripping the sentence.
“Unfortunately, the court gave more weight to the self-serving, unsubstantiated statements of an unrepentant, malingering mass murderer than to the overwhelming evidence that he was fully capable of planning and carrying out this diabolical attack on a crowded barbershop filled with men, women and children,” McGinty said.
During a murder trial that spanned more than two months, prosecutors and witnesses recounted a story of revenge and cold-blooded violence wrought by Shine and others. Jurors took about a day to convict Shine on 44 counts and another day to recommend he receive the death penalty.
Prosecutors said Shine walked into the Warrensville Heights barber shop in February 2015, pulled two guns from beneath his coat and opened fire, killing 23-year-old Walter Lee Barfield, a rival gang member who worked at the shop, 32-year-old shop owner William Gonzalez and 31-year-old customer Brandon White. Two men and a woman also were shot during the attack but survived. Shine’s DNA was found on shell casings, prosecutors said.
The jury also convicted Shine of conspiring from jail to kill an eyewitness, Aaron Ladson, the brother of Brandon White, in April 2015. While charges in the slaying of Ladson lacked death penalty specifications, Synenberg sentenced Shine to life without parole for that killing alone. Shine’s brother, Kevin McKinney, is awaiting trial on aggravated murder charges in Ladson’s slaying.
Shine’s mission to kill Barfield was rooted in a feud between the Heartless Felons, a gang Shine had been forced to join when he was 14 and incarcerated, and a rival gang called Loyal Always, prosecutors said. Shine tried to kill Barfield weeks before the barbershop slayings after Barfield stole a gun from another Heartless Felon, prosecutors said.
When asked to address the court before sentencing, Shine enigmatically said, “I’ll be back.”
Shine’s attorneys were not immediately available for comment.
Relatives of those killed gave tearful statements before sentencing about the damage Shine had done to their lives. Angela Ladson, the mother of Brandon White and Aaron Ladson, said her sons’ deaths is a “mother’s worst nightmare.”
Darlese Gonzalez, the wife of victim William Gonzalez, said Shine destroyed her family and their ability to feel safe.
“I’m just happy that there will be some justice today so my family can get closure and my husband can finally rest in peace,” she told Synenberg.
Afterward, Gonzalez said she was in disbelief.
“I feel like the judge just let him kill again,” she said. “I don’t think he’ll get out, but I feel he’ll orchestrate to kill again.”