Rudolph Valentino Gary Jr., the off-duty rookie Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot his brother-in-law following a neighborhood water-gun fight in 2010, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder Wednesday, sparing himself the possibility of being found guilty of first-degree murder and spending the rest of his life in state prison.
Gary, 28, entered his plea just after noon before Common Pleas Court Judge Shelley Robins New. The agreement between the District Attorney's Office and Gary calls for him to be sentenced to 25 to 60 years in state prison for third-degree murder and aggravated assault, for accidentally shooting bystander Indria Johnson in the leg.
Gary, with just 11 months on the police force, murdered Howard Williams, 22, the brother of Gary's estranged wife, Shanae Williams, on May 2, 2010. Witnesses said the fight between Gary and Williams was sparked when a female relative of Williams sprayed water on Gary's girlfriend during a block-wide water gunfight on Hoffman Street near 19th Street in South Philadelphia.
In court, Gary, a former Marine and father of two, asked for forgiveness from Williams' mother, Diane, and her five surviving children.
"We all lost. I could say I'm sorry ... but that will not suffice. Sorry won't do, it just won't cut it," he said. "From here, Ms. Diane," he said, touching his heart, "my actions were unnecessary. I can't take it back. I just want you to know I'm having sympathy for you because I can look at my mother and I know what she is going through."
Gary is the second former Philadelphia officer to be sentenced for murder this month. Three weeks ago, Frank Tepper was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering a neighbor in November 2009.