RUDOLPH Valentino Gary Jr. honorably served his country as a Marine, but his actions in May 2010 brought nothing but heartache and sorrow to the family of Howard Williams, the man the off-duty rookie Philadelphia cop murdered during a neighborhood water-gun fight two years ago.
Williams, 22, a budding boxer with a "Kool-Aid" smile, was one of six siblings who dubbed themselves the "sixpack," the five surviving siblings and their mother told a Philadelphia judge Wednesday.
"Rudolph, you didn't just kill Howard — you killed the community. People are still hurting," said the victim's mother, Diane Williams, who recalled the overflow crowd at her son's repass, including all the elderly ladies in their South Philly community with whom her son always spoke.
Shanea Williams, 26, a sister of the victim's who was married to and is now estranged from Gary, said that the slaying has been especially hard to deal with for her and the 10-year-old son she had with Gary, 28.
"I have to deal with that on a regular basis. Not just because of the emotion of him missing his father and uncle. But the emotion of him seeing a man who he thought could do no wrong murder his uncle," said Williams, who moments later bolted from the witness stand in tears.
Dressed in a black, three-piece suit, Gary, a former Marine and father of two who had been a cop for just 11 months the day of the incident, asked for forgiveness from Williams' family. "My hope and prayer is that we all can heal," he said. "Howard lost his life, and I lost mine."
Common Pleas Judge Shelley Robins New then sentenced the fallen law officer per the terms of an agreement between him and the District Attorney's Office: 25 to 60 years in state prison for the third-degree murder of Williams and the aggravated assault of a bystander who was shot in the leg.
By pleading guilty Gary spared himself the possibility of a jury finding him guilty of first-degree murder, which would have meant a mandatory life sentence without parole.
Assistant District Attorney Deborah Watson-Stokes estimated that Gary would serve at least 40 years before being paroled.
Gary shot Williams on May 2. 2010, during a blockwide water-gun fight on Hoffman Street near 19th. Witnesses said the fight was sparked when a female relative of Williams' sprayed water on Gary's girlfriend. The two women fought, Gary got his service weapon from his van and pointed it at a group of residents before shooting Williams multiple times. n