MAYS LANDING — A Camden man who admitted he was the shooter in a deadly 2011 casino garage carjacking was sentenced to 47 years in prison Friday.
“I shot her, and I shot him,” Phillip Byrd, now 22, previously said in court.
Byrd and two others traveled from Camden to Atlantic City “to lurk around casino garages,” Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury said before sentencing him in accordance with the plea agreement.
In March, Byrd said he approached Sunil Rattu, 28, and his 24-year-old fiancee, Radha Ghetia, at their sport utility vehicle and forced Ghetia to drive to “the destination.”
That spot was an alley off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where he then shot the pair. Rattu was killed; Ghetia survived her wound.
“The defendants were merciless,” DeLury said.
Rattu’s brothers-in-law, along with a sister and a nephew, were in court Friday but declined to speak. One did ask permission to videotape the proceeding.
Byrd showed no emotion during either his plea or his sentencing for felony murder, answering “no” when DeLury asked him whether he wanted to speak Friday.
Byrd and co-defendant Raheem Simmons, 19, are also charged in the killing of two men in Camden that happened months before the fatal carjacking.
The judge called Byrd “a dangerous, predatory, career criminal.”
He is currently serving a five-year sentence for a gun offense that was pending at the time of the killing. He also has an “extensive” juvenile record, DeLury said.
Simmons was set to be sentenced Friday as well but has made a motion to withdraw his plea to felony murder. That deal called for a 30-year sentence.
Originally, Byrd told investigators in a taped statement that it was the third man, Eric Darden, now 21, who shot the couple. But Darden took a plea deal and said it was Byrd who was the shooter.
In March, Byrd confirmed that.
Darden is serving a 30-year sentence of which he must serve the entire time. He will be 51 when he is freed.
Byrd must serve 85 percent of his sentence, or about 39 years, 11 months. With time already served, he could be free by time he turns 60.
Simmons’ motion to withdraw his plea — along with a possible sentencing, if that motion is denied — is set for later this month.
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