By Neal Putnam
A woman who participated in the slaying of the owner of a Downtown flooring business in 2018 was sentenced Jan. 21 to 16 years to life in state prison.
Seven family members of the victim, Ghedeer “Tony” Radda, 49, attended the sentencing of Lorena Del Carmen Espinoza, 37, who disguised herself in a blue wig when she distracted the victim before another person shot him to death.
Espinoza pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Radda inside Bottom Price Flooring at 1015 G Street at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2018.
The trial of Kevin Eugene Cartwright, 54, was to have started in January, but it was delayed to May 18 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Fred Link when it is hoped the coronavirus epidemic has lessened.
“She knew what she was getting involved with,” said Link. “She knew what type of guy he was.”
A detective testified previously that Espinoza told her she was promised to receive $150 from Cartwright for her participation.
Espinoza distracted Radda at the back of the store while a man believed to be Cartwright came inside wearing a granny mask and shot Radda three times. A crowbar was used to break into the cash register and coins were scattered on the floor.
“I cannot capture how our hearts have been broken for him. My family is a family of immigrants,” said Ghayda Young, who is Radda’s oldest sister and who added the family came from Iraq in 1978.
“He was a successful small businessman/owner. He liked to help others. That was his life,” said Young. “And he did it through his flooring business.”
Radda is survived by his wife and two young daughters who were eight and five years old at the time of his death.
“The sad irony is,” began Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco, adding “the victim would have probably given them money to people in need like the defendant if they had asked for it.”
Espinoza wore her blue wig also on her Facebook page. Link ordered her to pay $33,000 to the crime victim’s compensation fund which includes funeral costs.
“Everybody forgets about the other victims in a case like this—mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, etc.—on both sides,” said Link.
The judge gave Espinoza credit for serving 1,108 days since she was arrested several weeks after the slaying.
Cartwright is also charged with committing special circumstances allegations of murder during a burglary and robbery. If he’s convicted of first-degree murder, he would be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The video showed the man stuffing cash into his pocket with his gloves and he dropped the crowbar on the floor. Espinoza stood by the door and acted as a lookout.
Street cameras showed the man and Espinoza leaving, but the man took off his mask on a sidewalk some blocks away.
Cartwright remains in jail without bail. He has pleaded not guilty.
— Neal Putnam is a local court reporter.