Paralyzed boy forgives shooter in court

June 16, 2009 5:40:12 PM PDT
A powerful moment in an Oakland courtroom Tuesday came from a 12-year old boy. The young man, paralyzed by a stray bullet, told the man who fired the shot that he forgives him.

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Jared Adam's sentence could have been longer. He could have received 95 years to life instead of the 70 years to life he got for a crime spree that ended at a Pleasant Valley gas station in January 2008.

As he was robbing the business he started shooting at an attendant who was dialing 9-1-1. The bullets he fired went across the street into the Harmony Road Music School hitting 10-year-old Christopher Rodriguez and paralyzing him.

For that shooting, Adams will probably never see life outside prison walls again.

12-year-old Christopher Rodriguez waved to the cameras as he arrived for the sentencing Tuesday morning. In prepared statements he and his mother spoke to Jared Adams.

Rodriguez told him, "I'm sorry about your financial problems, if that's the reason why you were robbing. And, I also want to say I forgive you. I just hope you realize there are other ways to make money that do not break the law."

His mother said, "What happened that day was not a video game where you shoot people then press the reset button and everyone gets up and walks away. Now, the real consequences must be dealt with."

Those consequences include a sentence of 70 years to life in prison.

"So, the 70 years to life means that he will have to do at least 60 years before he would be considered for parole and the only way he would be released from prison is if a parole board found him suitable for release into the community," said prosecutor Nancy O'Malley.

The sentence covers a total of 12 felony counts.

Rodriguez was shot at the end of a crime spree. In January of 2008, Adams was robbing a gas station when a bullet from his .40 caliber handgun pierced the wall of the Harmony Road Music School across the street and severed Rodriquez' spine.

Rodriquez, then 10-years-old, was in the middle of a piano lesson.

"Students, teachers, we continually work through pushing past the things that happened that day. It's very embedded in our minds and in our hearts," said Krista Robinson, with the music school.

One month before, Adams had carjacked former state Senator Don Perata at gunpoint.

Tuesday in court, Adams said, "There's not a day that goes by that I don't look in the mirror and hate myself. I'm sorry for what I've done."

Rodriguez has received a lot of attention and accolades for his positive attitude, his courage and his strength in moving on. He is now apparently very excited about wheelchair basketball.

The prosecutor told ABC7 that once the courtroom had cleared, Rodriguez approached Adams and extended his hand, and shook hands with the man who put him in his wheelchair.

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