MARTINEZ -- A father and son were sentenced to prison Friday for the murder of a 20-year-old college football player gunned down on a busy street in West Contra Costa County's Tara Hills community in retribution for a roadway incident two days earlier.
"It's hard to comprehend how one ever gets to the point of killing a human being over bad driving," Judge John Kennedy said.
Kennedy sentenced the shooter, 51-year-old Tara Hills resident Charles "Mike" Titlow, to 40 years to life for his second-degree murder conviction in the Aug. 19, 2009 slaying of Richmond resident Ricardo Antonio Colina II.
His 24-year-old son, Charles "Chuck" Titlow, convicted of voluntary manslaughter, was sentenced to six years and eight months to the disappointment of the Colina family, as there was trial testimony that the younger Titlow set up the victim to be killed after hunting him for nearly two days.
With credit for time already served, he is scheduled to be released in 1,240 days, according to prosecutor Mary Knox, who had argued for a stiffer sentence.
"The time they'll be sentenced to is nothing compared to Ricardo's death. Eternity never ends," said the victim's mother, Essie Colina.
She spent an hour addressing the court about her oldest son, a San Francisco City College lineman who aspired to join the NFL. He was accepted on the University of Texas team after graduating from Pinole Valley High School -- also Chuck Titlow's alma mater -- but passed the opportunity to take care of his mother after she had a stroke, Ricardo Colina Sr. said.
The mother showed bags of photos and mementos from her son's life; the cake at her baby shower, his first haircut, report cards, art projects, Mother's Day cards, the first fish he caught with his dad. He was a sweet boy, her "gentle bear," she said.
"He asked me why I keep all these things. God helped me keep them because, right now, it's the only things I can reach for and get," Essie Colina said. "I've buried a lot of people. It's nothing like burying your child. That boy, he deserved better. I wanted him to have a life, an abundant life."
The shooting was set in motion 40 hours earlier, when Chuck Titlow became angry while driving behind Colina and used his truck to ram Colina's car twice, according to court testimony. Colina was outside the totaled vehicle when Chuck Titlow tried to run him over going 30 mph. Colina jumped into bushes to escape harm.
Over the next two days, Chuck Titlow was obsessed with finding Colina and his cousin who had been there that night, Knox said. He rounded up his friends and father, telling them he was going to fight the men whom he suspected had a gun.
Once he spotted Colina and his cousin on San Pablo Avenue and Tara Hills Boulevard on the day of the shooting, he pulled the emergency brake on his truck, marking the road with a 45-foot skid mark. Chuck Titlow chased Colina; his friend chased Colina's cousin.
Chuck Titlow and Colina were feet apart when Mike Titlow pulled up in his truck and fatally shot Colina in the neck.
Chuck Titlow's attorney argued that he didn't expect his father to bring a gun. Knox believed the father and son conspired.
"Chuck Titlow never had to fight that day," Knox said. "For whatever twisted reason he had, his intent was that Ricardo Colina was going to die that day, and his dad was the deadly weapon."
Chuck Titlow gave a brief, nearly inaudible apology to the Colina family Friday. Mike Titlow did not speak.
His daughter, the youngest of six, tearfully asked the judge for leniency for her father, who raised them by himself.
"It's just harder on us when we are going through so much," Jessica Titlow said.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.