Killing of UAlbany student nets life term
ALBANY De Von Callicutt will live out his life behind bars for slaying 22-year-old University at Albany student Richard Bailey during a robbery attempt near the city’s Pine Hills neighborhood.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Dan Lamont handed the 20-year-old convicted killer from Rensselaer the maximum term of life in prison without the possibility of parole during his sentencing in Albany County Court Thursday. He was also given an additional 25-year sentence for robbing Desmond Knauth in Beverwyck Park just seven minutes after fatally shooting Bailey in October 2008.
Lamont’s sentence came after James Bailey, the father of the deceased man, asked for Callicut to be punished “as severely and harshly as possible” during a statement he delivered in court. The father, a retired New York City police officer, later said he wanted to give Callicut an idea of the anguish he caused the Bailey family by callously killing their son.
“I just wanted to let him know what our family has been through for these two and a half years,” he told CBS 6, the Gazette’s newsgathering partner, after the sentencing. “We live with this every day, and I wanted to let him know what we’ve gone through.”
His wife, Lisa Bailey, went further. Outside the courtroom, she said Callicut’s life sentence would never atone for the crimes he committed the night her son died.
“I don’t think any sentence would have ever been enough,” she said. “He’s breathing and my son is not.”
Bailey, of Wantagh in Nassau County, aspired to be a police officer and was less than two months away from receiving his degree from UAlbany when he was killed. The university posthumously awarded him a degree in December 2009.
On the evening of the shooting, Callicutt and King “Cokilla” Modest were playing dice at Ricardo “Rico” Caldwell’s Quail Street residence. When Caldwell’s gambling losses mounted, the trio decided to seek “free money”— slang for robbing random people at gunpoint.
After a failed attempt with their first intended victim, they spotted Bailey on South Lake Avenue as he walked home from a friend’s house. Modest served as a lookout, Caldwell as an accomplice and Callicutt as the gunman.
Riding on BMX bikes, the two men approached Bailey from behind and demanded money. Caldwell claimed a scuffle broke out between Callicutt and Bailey, during which Bailey was shot once in the head around 11:20 p.m.
Caldwell and Modest later said they fled after hearing the single gunshot ring out. But Callicutt continued on to hold up Knauth.
Later, Callicutt confided in Jalaah Stratton, who testified that his friend displayed the weapon and spent shell casing used in the Bailey shooting. Neither was recovered by investigators.
Detectives tracked leads for nearly a year before Modest and Caldwell were brought in for questioning. Both pegged Callicutt as the one who shot Bailey.
Callicutt initially admitted to the crime in a statement taken by investigators while he was incarcerated at the Mid-State Correctional Facility in Oneida County on Sept. 11, 2009. His statement was later ordered suppressed because it was made without an attorney present.
But just two days after making the admission, Callicutt penned a pair of letters in which he seemingly takes credit for shooting Bailey. The letters were intercepted by corrections officials and played a central part in his prosecution.
“These devils knew from how I got the gun to how that night started and why the kid died,” he wrote in a letter to an individual named Shana. “So I said ‘[expletive] it, you got me.’ ”
It took jurors 10 hours over two days to convict Callicut. He was the last of three men to face charges in connection with Bailey’s murder.
Last year, Caldwell pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree attempted robbery after agreeing to a plea deal that will give him 12 years in state prison. Co-defendant Modest also pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted robbery and received a 10-year prison sentence.
When asked if he had a comment during his sentencing Thursday, Callicut simply answered “no.” In his remarks prior to his sentencing, Albany County prosecutor Dan Rossi said he’s never seen a defendant act with such callous disregard for someone’s life.
“This is as cold-blooded and calculated of a killing as I’ve seen in my career,” he said.