A crack addict who slipped out of recovery, confronted by a teenage gang member with a gun, in one of the city's most dangerous alleys. How could it play out into anything other than horrible?
It did wind up for the worst for Mathew Maurizzio, 39, shot and killed by Ricardo Lynn Hall Jr., then 19, behind the North Sacramento apartment complex they call "the Compound."
Hall, the son of a man doing life without parole for murder, got the same sentence as his dad Friday.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Roland L. Candee added another 25-to-life to Junior's term for his fatal use of a firearm around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2010. His father, Ricardo Lynn Hall Sr., now about 37, helped kick a man to death 15 years ago at the Arden-Del Paso light-rail station within a mile of where Hall Jr. murdered Maurizzio.
Friday's sentencing left a mother in tears and a lawyer lamenting what everybody agreed was "a very sad case."
Maurizzio's mother, Diane Urie, remembered her son as "a guy with a huge heart" who became a Christian at age 11 when he attended a Billy Graham revival.
Her boy got into heating-air conditioning work and moved to Nashville when he was 19, his mother said. He worked hard and bought a house in Tennessee. She said the bumps of life got to him when his company was sold and he lost his job and wound up homeless and addicted.
"That's when my husband and I brought him out here to help him get on his feet," Urie said. "Once we got him back here, he was such a hard worker, everybody wanted to hire him full time."
At the time of his death, Maurizzio worked as a maintenance supervisor for an apartment complex near the Royal Oaks Post Office.
"He was doing real good," Urie said.
He tested clean.
But there was one problem: Maurizzio's job was only a half-mile from the Compound. The complex on the 700 block of Dixieanne Avenue is a place where Sacramento police have handled so many calls they might as well put a substation on the street. Gangs from all over town have fought to control drug dealing at the complex.
The Dixieanne prostitution stroll added to the allure that drew Maurizzio to his death.
"He ended up right in the middle of all that," Urie said.
According to court documents, Maurizzio made a name for himself on Dixieanne "Crazy White Boy." His friends told police he'd been in the area at least a couple of hours before his death, drinking and smoking crack. They said he just bought some drugs when "Little Ricky" Hall jammed him up and told everybody else to get out of there, saying, "We have business to do."
The witnesses saw a scuffle and heard a shot. Little Ricky and his pals took off. Maurizzio ran out of the Compound, too, but collapsed in a front yard. Paramedics pronounced him dead right before 2 a.m. with a bullet through his heart.
A week later, police arrested Hall in a nearby motel, with a woman who said he was her pimp. She told police that the night Maurizzio was slain, Hall told her he shot somebody, court documents said.
Through the beginning of the trial, Hall denied he was ever at the Compound. He changed his story to testify at trial that he did kill Maurizzio but in self-defense. Jurors didn't buy it. They convicted him Oct. 4 of robbery-murder.
Hall's lawyer, Paul Irish, described his client's life as a prologue to disaster.
"He was basically in group homes growing up," Irish said. "He's homeless, living on the streets. He's getting involved in alcohol and drugs. He has been previously diagnosed with a mental condition bipolar. He got stabbed himself in the same area where this occurred."
Court records showed Hall's father was convicted March 27, 1997, for the robbery murder of John Yee, a 61-year-old hotel worker stomped to death for his portable CD player while waiting for a late-afternoon streetcar. Two juveniles helped with the killing, police said.
After Hall's father went to prison for life, the young man's mother had her parental rights terminated in 1998 for her history of violence and substance abuse, according to the defendant's probation report. The report said Hall went to Oakland Tech for a while and got his GED at the Boy's Ranch. It said he had a "2126" tattoo, signifying membership in the Underworld Zilla street gang.
In jail, Hall has been written up for 31 behavioral incidents, the probation report said. One was for a gang sex assault of another inmate. The trial is pending.
The probation report noted Hall has a 2-year-old son.
Hall's younger brother, Rasjon Miles, 19, attended Friday's sentencing.
"I have to step up," Miles said, "and be a father for this child."