OAKLAND (BCN) — At an emotional hearing that was followed by a shoving match in a courthouse hallway, an ex-felon was sentenced today to 62 years to life in state prison for his second-degree murder conviction for fatally shooting a man in East Oakland two years ago.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay said his sentence for 29-year-old Paul Booker for killing 37-year-old Steven Cotton of Oakland in the 2300 block of 88th Avenue at about 2:30 p.m. on July 9, 2013, was “harsh” but said he thinks it’s “appropriate” because of Booker’s criminal record and the circumstances of the case.
In addition to second-degree murder, Booker was convicted of an enhancement that he used a gun to kill Cotton and has four previous felony convictions: one each for carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon and two for possession of a controlled substance.
Booker also faces a separate trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl he abducted in June 2013, a month before he killed Cotton.
In that case Booker allegedly abducted the girl in East Oakland on June 3, 2013, sexually assaulted her and tried to make her work as a prostitute.
He’s charged with kidnapping for ransom, torture, assault with a firearm, sexual penetration with a foreign object, soliciting a minor to prostitute, attempted pandering by procuring and attempted human trafficking of a minor for commercial sex.
A preliminary hearing in the sexual assault case is scheduled for Oct. 14. While Booker was in custody on that case, Oakland police developed information that he was responsible for the fatalshooting of Cotton. Prosecutor Gregory O’Connell said Booker shot Cotton after Cotton started a fight with him.
O’Connell said he’s not sure what the two men were fighting over but there were rumors that they had been committing crimes together and had gotten into some sort of beef.
O’Connell admitted that Cotton provoked Booker but said Booker acted unreasonably by shooting at Cotton seven times, hitting him three times in his upper body and once in his face.
The prosecutor said a more reasonable response by Booker would have been to fire a warning shot or to shoot at Cotton’s feet. After Booker was convicted on June 22, his attorney, Frank Lang,
said he was “disappointed” because he thinks Booker acted in self-defense and thought a manslaughter verdict would have been more appropriate.
Lang said today that Booker should be sentenced to less than the maximum term, which is what Clay imposed, because “there were elements of self-defense.”
Referring to the shooting, Clay said, “I’ve seen too many of these that don’t make any sense. This was a street fight that apparently escalated.”
The judge said, “The anger, the issue of disrespect, the access to guns, it’s not OK.
“Before Booker was sentenced, Cotton’s mother, Rhielovah Cotton, told the court, “I wish him nothing well and I hope one day he’ll see what he did. I hope he has sleepless nights the rest of his life.”
Cotton’s sister, Rushie Cotton, said she’s devastated by his shooting death because “he was a lifemate for me and was there for me since day one.”
She said that after her brother was killed, “I buckled down to do whatever it took to get justice for him.”Rushie Cotton told Booker, “It was me who got you here today.”
After the hearing, family members of Cotton and Booker got into a shouting match outside Clay’s courtroom and two women began shoving each other. Bailiffs then quickly rushed out of all four courtrooms on Clay’s floor and broke up the brouhaha.