‘That Day, I Couldn’t Protect Him,’ Mother Says at Sentencing of Son’s Killer

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A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge handed down a 65-year prison sentence to a 19-year-old man on June 2 after a jury previously found the defendant guilty of brutally gunning down 43-year-old James Blue in the Idlewood neighborhood.

Family and friends of Blue packed Judge Jennifer Schiffer’s courtroom Friday morning for the sentencing of Sahiou Kargbo, who was convicted of second-degree murder and three weapons charges in February for the fatal shooting on Jan. 25, 2022. Blue’s mother and other family members tearfully addressed the court to express their sorrow since Blue’s death 493 days ago

Blue’s mother recounted how her son was sitting in his car on the 1400 block of Walker Avenue and waiting for a refrigerator to be delivered to a home that he and his wife were renovating.

“I received a phone call from an unrecognizable voice telling me to come to the hospital,” she said, reminding those in attendance that Kargbo shot Blue 10 times, including multiple shots fired after Blue got out of his car and collapsed.

“That day, I couldn’t protect [him],” she continued. “I couldn’t hold his hand and tell him everything would be OK…[Kargbo] has shown disregard for life. He is heartless.”

Other family members to speak included Blue’s sister, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, cousin, and wife, who also read impact statements from Blue’s three children.

Reading her eldest son’s statement, Blue’s wife said that her son was on the phone with Blue at the time of the shooting and heard people saying, “He’s dead.” She later asked Judge Schiffer to impose the maximum sentence against Kargbo.

Prior to the sentencing, the prosecutor informed the judge that Kargbo had committed two crimes just days prior to Blue’s murder, including an armed robbery and a non-fatal shooting. Defense attorney Todd Oppenheim asked the court to consider Kargbo’s upbringing, citing examples like how his father died of a heart attack and that the defendant witnessed a murder when he was 15 years old.

“I made a terrible mistake, Your Honor,” Kargbo said later in the proceedings. While he believed he was protecting himself at the time, he noted, he now understands that Blue was an innocent man.

Judge Schiffer’s sentence for each charge is as follows: 40 years for second-degree murder; a consecutive 20 years, the first five years without parole for firearm use in a felony violent crime; and a consecutive five years for being a minor in possession of a firearm. The charge of having a handgun on his person was merged with the other counts for a total sentence of 65 years.

Kargbo’s sentence will run consecutively to his other sentences, which were not discussed during Friday’s proceedings. Judge Schiffer also recommended Kargbo for the Patuxent Institute.

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