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Long prison term for ringleader of 2 Franklintown attacks
The ringleader of a violent crew of young men who bound and beat two teenagers and shot a man during two Franklintown-area home invasions must spend at least 25 years in prison.
Rico Carty Holmes II, 26, of Walter Reed Army Base in Bethesda, Maryland, appeared in York County Court on Tuesday to be sentenced on both his cases. He made no statements in open court.
Senior deputy prosecutor Jonathan Blake argued for a sentence of at least 38½ years.
"There was a shocking level of violence shown here — a shocking lack of remorse," Blake told presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner, then called Holmes sinister and violent.
"He planned this over the course of several days, to settle petty scores with people who lived three states away," Blake argued. "He gathered the weapons. Gathered his friends. Drove up here in the middle of the night and tried to kill Kevin Gachelin."
Defense attorney Eric Delp argued for a lesser sentence, noting Holmes' co-defendants received significantly shorter prison terms.
Holmes, a ninth-grade high-school dropout who later earned his GED, enlisted in the Army and in 2010 was sent to Afghanistan, where his post was "constantly being bombarded by artillery," Delp told the judge; 120 days later, Holmes was removed from Afghanistan after having what amounted to a mental breakdown.
Still hope? While imposing sentence, Bortner noted Holmes has a "significant" criminal history.
He sentenced Holmes to 25½ to 51 years in state prison, then gave the man credit for the nearly three years he's already spent locked up.
"Frankly, we could just as easily be here sentencing you for murder," the judge told Holmes. "Hopefully, there's still some hope for you."
Bortner also ordered Holmes to pay his share, or one-quarter, of the total $39,102 restitution in both cases, which amounts to about $9,775.
A jury in July convicted Holmes of a host of charges, including attempted homicide, aggravated assault, robbery and burglary.
The background: According to state police Trooper Jonathan Colarusso, Holmes and his accomplices entered a Franklintown apartment on South Baltimore Street about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 8, 2013.
The gun-wielding men surrounded Gachelin while he was sleeping and beat him, court documents state.
Gachelin, then 21, struggled with his attackers and managed to escape, but not before being shot at least twice in the lower back by Holmes, police said. He also suffered a head injury during the attack.
Gachelin told state police he and Holmes had been in a number of verbal and physical fights in the weeks leading up to the home invasion, stemming from an alleged attack on one of Gachelin's acquaintances by Holmes, documents state.
Teens terrorized: Less than an hour before Gachelin was shot, two 17-year-olds, a boy and a girl, were watching television at a home on Whiskey Spring Road in Franklin Township when Holmes and his crew walked through the unlocked front door wielding baseball bats, according to Northern York County Regional Police.
The men forced the teens to get on the floor and yelled for them to shut up and stay on the ground, police said.
The teens were punched, their hands and feet were bound with duct tape, and their mouths and eyes were covered with tape, according to police.
The group stole six firearms and 5,000 rounds of ammunition from the home, police said. According to Blake, $13,750 of the restitution goes to the owner of the guns, who was the father of the teenage boy beaten and robbed.
Assault rifles: Taken were three bolt-action rifles, plus three assault rifles — an AK-47 and two AR-15s, police said.
One of the teens told police he recognized Holmes' voice and said Holmes had attended a party at the home a few weeks earlier.
While there, Holmes saw the firearm collection, according to police.
Judge Bortner agreed Holmes "orchestrated this whole criminal episode" because he felt "slighted."
Accomplices: Holmes' three accomplices previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison. They are:
► Joseph Tyrone Henderson Jr., 20, of Alexandria, Virginia, sentenced to six to 12 years
► Leonard C. Hayes III, 21, of Fairfax, Virginia, sentenced to 5½ to 11 years
► Andre Jamal Highsmith, 21, of Alexandria, Virginia, sentenced to two to four years, plus additional supervision.
"They were only involved in this because Rico Holmes masterminded it," Blake said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.