Jason Williams and another man robbed a prostitute of her money and cellphone at gunpoint last May on Grant Street.
An hour and half later, they used the cellphone to call a cab to Clay Street in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood. When the cab arrived, they got in the back seat, pulled out their guns and demanded money.
Williams put a .22-caliber pistol to the cabbie’s head and took $5.
The victim grabbed the gun, and Williams fired one shot, hitting the cabbie in the chest and leaving him near death.
His co-defendant robbed a friend of the cabbie who was sitting in the front-passenger seat, then shot him in the shoulder.
Three days later, Williams stole a man’s van.
Williams, 18, of Buffalo, was sentenced Wednesday to a total of 16 and a third to 19 years in prison for the crime spree.
A jury convicted Williams last month of four counts of first-degree robbery and one count of fourth-degree grand larceny.
Davante Thompson, 18, faces sentencing Thursday. Thompson pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted first-degree robbery and testified against Williams.
Assistant District Attorney John Patrick Feroleto urged Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk to sentence Williams to the maximum – 50 years in prison.
The prosecutor cited the devastating effect of Williams’ actions on the 23-year-old cabbie, who had been on the job for only two months when he was shot on May 13, 2014.
He was rushed to Erie County Medical Center, where he was placed in a medically induced coma and given several blood transfusions. He eventually recovered but lost his gall bladder and a portion of his lower intestine.
He has been unable to return to work since then.
Feroleto said the cabbie faces more surgery and will have to live with the memory of what happened to him that night for the rest of his life.
“He was an innocent victim who was trying to make a living and was shot over $5,” the prosecutor told the judge.
Feroleto also cited the effect on the front-seat passenger who was treated at ECMC for his shoulder wound and released the next day.
“He watched as his friend nearly died,” the prosecutor said.
He added that the prostitute “didn’t deserve to have a gun stuck in her face and have her money stolen.”
Feroleto told the judge the holdups occurred after Williams served a nine-month jail sentence for robbing a 13-year-old Somali boy of his cellphone at knifepoint in May 2013 in the Grant Street area.
The judge sentenced Williams to concurrent prison sentences of 15 years for shooting and seriously injuring the cabbie, 13 years for robbing him with a deadly weapon, 11 years for helping rob the cabbie’s friend and 10 years for robbing the prostitute.
He also sentenced the defendant to a consecutive prison sentence of one and a third to four years for stealing the van on May 16, 2014.
The van was later found on Clay Street, where Williams’ girlfriend lives. The weapon used in the cabbie shooting was found in the van, with Williams’ DNA on it.
Police arrested Williams on June 3, 2014, at his girlfriend’s home as he tried to escape by jumping from a window.
His girlfriend testified at trial that he told her he had robbed and shot the cabbie.