Minto gets 20 years for killing 14-year-old boy
BRIDGEPORT - As a young mother sobbed in the back of the courtroom on Thursday, Garth Minto tried to justify fatally shooting her 14-year-old son during a Dodge City-style shootout on a downtown street on Christmas Eve.
“I know it was a tragic event,” Minto explained, looking at the crying Sol Marie Ribeira. “But hard decisions had to be made, that’s why they are called hard decisions.”
His argument did not persuade Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin, who refused to withdraw Minto’s prior guilty plea to first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and instead sentenced Minto to the 20-year plea agreement.
“What’s missing in this situation is that you and Michael Majors were walking around with loaded guns, I have no problem seeing this as a reckless act and I’m sure a jury wouldn’t either,” the judge said.
He then sentenced the 24-year-old Minto to the 20 years followed by five years of special parole.
Police said Minto and Majors squared off on a busy State Street sidewalk at 4:30 in the afternoon on Christmas Eve 2015, guns blazing as horrified passersby’s ran for cover.
But when the smoke cleared 14-year-old Luis Colon lay in the street, a bullet hole in his back.
Colon had been sent to the store by his mother for some last-minute items. He was crossing State Street eating from a bag of Gummy Worms when he got caught in the middle of the shootout between Majors and Minto, police said.
Major, 24, previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and possession of a pistol without a permit and was sentenced by Devlin to 30 years in prison followed by five years of special parole.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Howard Stein told the judge the whole scenario had been captured on video and showed that Minto had the opportunity to retreat when he saw Majors approaching.
“This was an urban gun battle on a city street and a 14-year-old boy lost his life,” Stein said. “Mr. Minto was clearly the cause of that child’s death and yet he stands before the court totally focused on himself - see he’s not even paying attention,” the prosecutor continued, interrupting Minto who was in the process of mouthing “I love you,” to a young woman sitting in the back of the courtroom.
Wiping tears from her eyes, Ribeira told the judge that her son stayed home at night, played video games and never did anything wrong.
“And he ended up dead. I can’t see him anymore because he is seven feet under the ground,” she cried.
But Minto, standing beside his lawyers, Frederick Ury and Robert Frost, responded that while he felt bad the boy was dead he did not take responsibility for it.
“I tried to defend myself as anyone else would do. I’m not the animal the prosecutor says I am,” he complained.