STOCKTON — Sobbing, Nikki Mello confronted the man who shot her in her Tracy backyard last year before he was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday in San Joaquin County Superior Court.
Judge Franklin Stephenson sentenced Angelo Alex Abila, 20, to the two-decade term Abila had agreed to in a February deal with the district attorney’s office.
Abila pleaded guilty to committing assault with a firearm, using a firearm in the act of a felony, inflicting great bodily injury and committing a crime on the behalf of a criminal street gang.
He shot Mello in her backyard on the 2800 block of Redbridge Road while she was breaking up a party in the early morning hours of March 16, 2013.
Although Abila is trying to withdraw his guilty plea, Stephenson said Wednesday that there was good cause to proceed with the sentencing for the sake of the 18-year-old victim.
Mello started with a strong voice but was soon crying as she addressed Abila in the courtroom.
“A year ago, part of my life was taken away from me,” she said. “I just can’t have a normal life. I wake up and wonder if I’m alive or not. I just want it to be over with.”
Mello said she had forgiven Abila for his actions after he agreed to plead guilty, but she said it felt like a slap in the face when he told the court he wanted to withdraw that plea April 7.
As Abila sat motionless, Stephenson read his charges and told him he was being sentenced to 20 years in prison, as agreed. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole and must register as a gang participant, and a strike will appear on his criminal record.
Because Abila and his new attorney, Peter King, are fighting to withdraw his plea, the judge scheduled a hearing at 10 a.m. May 22 to examine the motions filed by the defense.
Outside the courtroom, Mello said she was relieved to have completed her statement to the court.
“I had a tough time talking to him,” she said. “I’m glad it’s over. He has no remorse. I want to make sure this sentence sticks.”
Mello said the bullet that entered her back more than a year ago remains in her body. She said that although she has learned to live with it, her everyday activities are still hindered by the wound.
Deputy District Attorney Donald Vaughn summed up the case in the court hallway by saying, “This is just another example of gang violence and how it affects our community and normal citizens’ lives.”
“I was able to prosecute him because people came forward and told the truth,” he added. “That’s what made the difference. It was good evidence.”
Abila will remain in San Joaquin County Jail until his new motions are resolved, Vaughn said.
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