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Driver in fatal I-15 shooting gets 2 to 20 years in prison

A West Point man who was the driver in a fatal shooting that police believe was gang-related was sentenced Friday to two-to-20 years in prison. He continued to keep his silence about the identities of two other men in his vehicle when the shooting occurred.

Matthew James Day, 24, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, for the Jan. 9 shooting death of Cesar Ramirez, 18, during rush-hour traffic on the interstate highway.

Police believe that Day, a gang member, was driving a black vehicle and came up next to another vehicle filled with rival gang members on I-15. Ramirez was shot, managed to pull over to the side of the freeway and was taken to a hospital, but he died from his injuries.

What little information police could get out of witnesses often turned out to be conflicting. A passenger in Ramirez's Jeep said the shooting was a "road-rage" situation because Ramirez apparently upset someone when he cut them off in traffic while text messaging.

However, Day previously told law enforcement officials that "the shooting resulted from an earlier altercation with the occupants of the Jeep, who were believed to be rival gang members," according to court documents. "Further, he admitted that he participated in the shooting, along with two other unnamed persons in his vehicle."

Throughout the investigation, Day has remained tight-lipped about who the other two people were.

Day's defense attorney, Andrea Garland, insisted he does regret what happened. She also noted he realized he was headed for prison.

"Snitches" who turn in others are often in danger in prison.

Prosecutor Sandi Johnson found Day's silence disturbing and believes he is sorry only that he got caught.

That view was shared by 3rd District Judge L.A. Dever, who expressed skepticism at Day's claims of being sorry for what happened and taking responsibility for his actions as set forth in a pre-sentence report.

"I don't believe you have true remorse," Dever told Day. "If you did, you would see that justice is done in this case and would let us know who the rest of the people are."

The judge sentenced Day for the second-degree felony manslaughter charges, which typically carry a sentence of one-to-15 years in prison, but added a weapons "enhancement," or extra time, for the use of a gun in the commission of a crime.

"This young man was murdered by you and your friends," the judge told Day.

e-mail: lindat@desnews.com