A surveillance image of Lorena Espinoza and Kevin Cartwright. Courtesy San Diego Police
A man convicted of fatally shooting an East Village business owner inside the victim’s flooring materials store, then making off with cash from the store’s register, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kevin Eugene Cartwright, 55, was convicted by a San Diego jury earlier this month of first-degree murder and other charges for the Oct. 10, 2018, shooting death of 49-year-old Ghedeer “Tony” Radda at the victim’s G Street store, Bottom Price Flooring.
In addition to life without parole, San Diego Superior Court Judge Eugenia Eyherabide sentenced Cartwright to an additional 70 years to life for other convicted counts, including a robbery count for an armed holdup in Point Loma, which happened one day prior to Radda’s killing.
Prior to imposing the sentence, Eyherabide called Radda’s slaying “unconscionable” and “pure evil,” and asked Cartwright, “For what? A couple thousand bucks, maybe?”
Deputy District Attorney Matt Greco said Cartwright’s co-defendant, 38- year-old Lorena Espinoza, entered the business first and lured the victim to the back of the store, where he was later fatally shot by Cartwright.
Espinoza pleaded guilty to second-degree murder prior to Cartwright’s trial and was sentenced earlier this year to 16 years to life in state prison.
Espinoza was wearing a purple wig, while Cartwright concealed himself with a Halloween-style mask during the attack, according to Greco, who said the pair were identified after the shooting through examination of smart streetlight camera footage from the downtown area.
Surveillance footage from inside the business showed that after Radda was shot, the gunman went to the register and forced it open with a pry bar while Espinoza stood by the store’s entrance and acted as a lookout.
After making off with cash, the pair left the business and walked away in opposite directions, with Espinoza going westbound on G Street toward the GMC Yukon SUV they drove to the scene, and Cartwright heading eastbound, according to prosecutors.
Defense attorney Jeremy Thornton alleged in his closing argument that there was no definitive proof his client was the masked gunman.
Though the perpetrators’ SUV was tracked to Cartwright, he argued someone else could have borrowed the vehicle. Thornton also alleged that fingerprints and DNA were absent from several items prosecutors allege belonged to the killer.
Cartwright was arrested Oct. 17 and Espinoza was taken into custody about two weeks later. Following Cartwright’s arrest, Greco said police seized a gun belonging to Radda and 9mm ammunition that was “identical” to the ammo the gunman used at Bottom Price Flooring.
–City News Service