A teenager has received 35 years in prison for the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old Chesterfield County man in eastern Henrico County.
Taiveon A. Tucker, 18, of Henrico was sentenced Friday for the Nov. 15, 2017, killing of Ra’Quan L. Mayo.
Prosecutors said Tucker killed Mayo during a drug deal and robbery in the 4600 block of Needham Court. Prosecutors said Tucker had been sending texts to Mayo prior to the killing to get marijuana from the victim.
Tucker was 17 at the time, but he was tried as an adult at an August trial in which jurors found him guilty of murdering Mayo during a robbery. The jury also found him guilty of two additional charges, robbery and using a firearm while committing a murder.
B.J. McGee, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Henrico, said at Friday’s sentencing hearing that Mayo “lost his life over a small bag of marijuana.”
“An armed 17-year-old young boy who was trying to purchase marijuana decided to take a life,” McGee said.
McGee said that Mayo, a Highland Springs High School graduate, was killed just days before the birth of his daughter, who is now 1 year old.
Aarin L. Anderson, a 22-year-old Henrico man who was charged with conspiracy to rob Mayo and with using a firearm in a robbery, testified at Tucker’s trial that Tucker went up to the passenger door of Mayo’s car and that the teenager then put something in his pocket. Anderson said Tucker went around Mayo’s vehicle to the driver’s side and a shot rang out. John LaFratta, Tucker’s defense attorney, suggested to jurors that Anderson was motivated to speak out in order to get favorable treatment from prosecutors.
After the trial, LaFratta filed a motion asking that the court throw out the jury’s verdicts. LaFratta argued there wasn’t enough evidence to prove there even was a robbery and that prosecution witnesses never said they saw Tucker with a gun around the time of the shooting.
At Friday’s sentencing, Judge James Stephen Yoffy rejected LaFratta’s motion to toss the jury’s findings.
LaFratta noted at the sentencing hearing that Tucker wasn’t yet 18 at the time of the incident and that his client did not have a lengthy criminal history as a juvenile before Mayo’s killing.
“This is a young man of tender years [with] little contact with the criminal justice system that’s before this court,” LaFratta said.
Given a chance to speak before the judge prior to sentencing, Tucker denied that he killed or robbed Mayo. He instead accused Anderson of being the killer.
“I’m sitting here taking the fall,” Tucker said.
Before issuing his sentence, Yoffy told Tucker that the jury did not agree with his version of what happened. Yoffy called Tucker a “violent person.”
“Mr. Mayo never had a chance to defend himself,” Yoffy said. “It’s almost as if he was assassinated.”
Mayo was shot in the back of the head, which prosecutors said indicated he was in a defensive posture when he was shot.
Yoffy sentenced Tucker to serve 32 years for the murder conviction, as well as a three-year active sentence for the firearm conviction. The judge also sentenced Tucker to 20 years for robbery, but all of the time was suspended.