Calvin Sharp, an ex-taxicab driver who brutally murdered a 6-year-old boy with a meat cleaver, has been sentenced in California to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The attack took place on the morning of Aug. 12, 2007, in the Hillcrest Park Apartments near Thousand Oaks.
According to police, a then tenant of a first-floor apartment, 33-year-old Sandra Ruiz, had been arguing with Sharp about whether her son, 6-year-old Sev'n Molina, spent too much time playing video games. Sharp was also upset because Ruiz had broken off a romantic relationship with him and was seeing another man.
When the argument intensified, witnesses told police, Sharp picked up a meat cleaver and waved it around wildly. Sev'n began crying and ran out of the apartment and into the courtyard. Sharp followed.
"The little boy was trying to get away. He kept yelling at the boy. He was saying things like die, die, die," neighbor Julia Doryn told KABC-TV in an August 2007 interview.
When Sharp caught up with Sev'n, he hacked at the child's body with the meat cleaver and struck him in the head multiple times. When the boy's mother ran to her son's side, Sharp turned the cleaver on her. Ruiz was so severely injured that part of her hand was nearly severed from her arm, police said.
Several neighbors, alerted by Ruiz and her son's screams, gathered outside. While some stood by watching, others attempted to intervene.
"When I tried to grab the kid, that's when [Sharp] grabbed him and pulled him closer and started flailing that [cleaver] like crazy," neighbor Patrick Bowman told the Los Angeles Times in 2007. "He pulled the kid closer to him and started to beat and hack him with the knife."
Unable to stop Sharp, Bowman ran upstairs and dialed 9-1-1.
Diane Cox, a 53-year-old neighbor, confronted Sharp and he brought the cleaver down on her head, cutting her face. Despite her injuries, Cox managed to knock the cleaver from Sharp's hand, at which point another onlooker jumped in and tackled Sharp. The two worked together to hold Sharp down until police cars arrived at the scene.
Deputies with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department were unable to safely subdue Sharp and were forced to shoot him multiple times with a stun gun.
While Sharp was being loaded into the back of a patrol car, paramedics arrived on the scene. Ruiz and Cox were transported to Los Robles Regional Medical Center.
Sev'n died at the scene.
An autopsy revealed the child died as a result of multiple "sharp-force head injuries."
When questioned by police, Sharp allegedly told them that he had received messages via a satellite radio, which instructed him to commit the brutal crimes.
Sharp was initially charged with one count of murder, one count of aggravated mayhem, and two counts of attempted murder. He was also charged with one count of felony cruelty to an animal, in regard to a separate incident, in which he had allegedly killed his dog, Knuckles.
Sharp's arraignment was delayed until March 17, 2009, when he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. As a result, Superior Court Judge Steven Hintz appointed two mental health professionals to examine Sharp.
In late 2009, Sharp entered a plea of guilty by reason of insanity to first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and two special circumstances.
In November, DeNoce ruled Sharp was sane when he committed the crimes.
In a 33-page ruling, DeNoce said failed to show that schizophrenia had rendered him incapable of "knowing and understanding" his crimes.
After Wednesday's sentencing of Sharp, Ventura County prosecutor Maeve Fox told the Ventura County Star that DeNoce was "courageous and discerning" in handing down the life sentence.
"I think Mr. Sharp deserved this sentence," she said.
In addition to a life sentence for the killing of Molina, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kevin DeNoce also handed the 33-year-old defendant two life sentences Wednesday, for two related attempted murders.
Sharp's attorney, Todd Howeth of the Ventura County Public Defender's Office, told DeNoce he plans to appeal the court's decision.
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