Q: What happened to the men arrested for the murder of the Sacramento teen John Ross in 1982?
Marcia Barker, Emeryville
A: Albert M. Zaccardi was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison for the shooting death of 17-year-old John Ross and the wounding of Ross’ companion, 18-year-old Clark Taylor.
The teenagers were shot about 10 p.m. May 8, 1982, as they walked along Fifth Street near Broadway in Sacramento. Ross was shot with a .32 caliber pistol and died from a single wound to the back of the head. Taylor was hit in the esophagus and right upper lobe of his lung. He underwent emergency surgery and survived.
Zaccardi, then 33, and Steven E. Rathbun, 23, were arrested in October 1982 following a lengthy police investigation into the shooting, according to stories in The Sacramento Bee. Witnesses to the shooting identified a 1971 light blue Ford pickup as the vehicle from which the shots were fired.
Zaccardi, a laborer with an extensive criminal record, pleaded guilty the following month. He admitted to driving around in his pickup that night, shooting out the window “for fun.”
Just before sentencing Zaccardi, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen P. Fields turned to the defendant and said, “You’re a stupid jerk for taking this kid in the prime of his life,” according to an account in The Bee.
Ross, was to have graduated from McClatchy High School the month he was killed and had planned to join the Air Force. The judge said he had talked with one of Ross’ former coaches who described Ross as an outstanding youth who never got into trouble and who helped other teenagers stay out of trouble.
Zaccardi, now 68, remains in prison. He currently is incarcerated at California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville.
Charges against Rathbun, who was with Zaccardi the night of the shooting, were dropped by the district attorney’s office.