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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Judge warns man he won’t ‘see the light of day’ if he commits another serious felony, sentences him to 12 years in prison for Hillyard storage unit shooting

Oct. 21, 2022 Updated Fri., Oct. 21, 2022 at 8:12 p.m.

A 31-year-old man with an “atrocious” criminal record was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for a 2020 shooting at a Hillyard self-storage unit.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sentenced Nicholas A. O’Neill, who goes by the street name “Little Red,” according to court documents, to 10 years in prison for second-degree assault – the maximum prison sentence for the charge – and two years for attempting to elude police. The charges will run consecutively, or a total of 12 years.

“I messed up and I’m sorry,” O’Neill told the court Friday in front of about 10 of his loved ones.

O’Neill pleaded guilty Sept. 20 to the two charges as part of a plea agreement.

The crimes took place after Samuel Aldrich arranged to meet a potential buyer of auto parts Aug. 5 at Self Storage of Spokane, 4415 N. Market St., according to court documents. Aldrich’s friend, Tami Tedrow, gave Aldrich a ride to the facility.

Video footage showed the driver of a Toyota Camry approaching Aldrich from behind at the storage facility, documents said. Tedrow said four armed males occupied the Toyota and started shooting at Aldrich.

Surveillance video showed the rear passenger of the Toyota open their door and point a handgun at the back of Aldrich’s head from about 2 feet away, according to court documents. The footage showed Aldrich running, “likely in fear of his life,” a detective said in the documents.

Aldrich pulled a handgun from his waistband and fired shots at the Toyota as it passed by, the footage showed. It also showed the rear seat passenger step out and fire shots from a handgun at Aldrich.

No one was injured, court records said.

Tedrow said Aldrich told her as they fled, “It’s O’Neill.”

A detective determined the person seated in the front passenger seat of the Toyota appeared to resemble O’Neill based on recent photos of O’Neill and his tattoos, documents said. O’Neill was holding an AR-15-style rifle while in the vehicle.

O’Neill’s attorney, Robert Cossey, said his client has an “atrocious” criminal record, has lived a tough life and got involved in gangs. But, he said O’Neill stepped up and was willing to pay the consequences in this case.

O’Neill said he grew up in a “messed-up” household, and that both of his parents were drug addicts. He said he took care of his brother and sister, and taught himself how to read.

The sentence Plese handed down followed the sentencing recommendation made by Cossey and Spokane County deputy prosecutor Jonathan Degen.

The standard sentencing range for second-degree assault was a little more than five years in prison to seven years, but Degen and Cossey agreed to the exceptional sentence of 10 years in prison. The two-year sentence for attempt to elude, which stemmed from an April 2020 incident, was within the standard sentencing range of 22 to 29 months behind bars.

O’Neill originally faced charges of attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and drive-by shooting charges for the storage unit shooting. Several charges were also dismissed from other cases as part of O’Neill’s plea.

Plese said O’Neill would be a very old man when he got out of prison if he was sentenced on the original charges, but the plea agreement will allow him to leave prison as a “pretty young man” and still have a life.

The assault charge is O’Neill’s second strike, which means if he commits another serious felony, he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Hopefully, this is it for you,” said Plese, adding that O’Neill won’t “see the light of day” if convicted on another major felony.

O’Neill will get credited for time he already served in jail, which Degen said is about two years.

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