New Haven man gets 47 years for murder he committed at age 16

NEW HAVEN — Ricky Bunn, who was described in court Tuesday as “a good kid” and a promising “scholar athlete,” was sentenced to serve 47 years in prison for murdering Torrence “T.J.” Gamble.

Both the defendant and the victim were 16 at the time of the crime four years ago. People who knew them said the two were friends.

But according to statements in court Tuesday during the sentencing hearing, Bunn was lured into the lifestyle of the PIRU street gang. Gamble reportedly also was a member.

Bunn’s attorney, Paul Carty, said the young man’s life was “the story of two people in one.”

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney John P. Doyle Jr., who prosecuted Bunn in his trial last October, noted the jury accepted the evidence and “found this defendant guilty of murdering and conspiring with Otis Burton and John Helwig to murder ‘T.J.’ Gamble. He was in possession of a gun and he put a bullet in the back of the victim’s head.”

Burton and Helwig decided to cooperate with the state and testified against Bunn in the trial. They are awaiting sentencing. Burton said he was walking alongside Bunn when the young defendant shot Gamble; Helwig said he drove the two of them to the scene.

The shooting occurred on Daggett Street April 3, 2014. During the trial, testimony was presented that a leader of PIRU wanted Gamble killed because the leader thought Gamble told police where another PIRU leader was hiding out. But there was no evidence Gamble had done this.

“This was an intentional plan, a calculated crime to take care of what Mr. Bunn and others thought to be a problem,” Doyle said Tuesday.

Doyle said that despite Bunn’s young age, “What he did that day was the execution of another 16-year-old kid. Then he got up on the (witness) stand and lied about it.” Bunn testified it was Burton who shot Gamble.

The courtroom was crowded for the hearing, with Gamble’s family and friends and Bunn’s family and friends seated on opposite sides of the aisle. Members of each side delivered emotional statements to Superior Court Judge Elpedio N. Vitale, who had presided over the trial.

Gamble’s mother, Sheena Gamble-Mabery, read a statement recalling the last time she saw her son as he walked out the door of their home. She said, “See you later, love you, son,” and he replied, “OK, Ma, see you later. Love you, too.”

“Little did I know that my son would soon be lying all alone on a sidewalk after being shot in the back of the head,” she…

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