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Tagger Who Shot Gang Interventionist Point Blank Apologizes at Sentencing

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Former Crips gang member Ronald L. Barron spotted a tagger spray painting one February Sunday evening in 2010 on Pico Boulevard near the Cottage Bar, and approached the teen. Barron had turned his life around and was working as a gang outreach and intervention worker. Still, going up to the tagger proved fatal; the 16-year-old boy shot Barron dead, in front of witnesses.Now that teenager is an adult, and offered an apology in court today after being sentenced to 29 years in prison for the killing, reports City News Service.

Mark Anthony Villasenor addressed the court, his victim's family, and his own family members just before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laura F. Priver imposed the term:

"As you guys all know, the incident occurred when I was 16. That does not make an excuse for my decision ... I'd like to say I'm sorry, first of all ... I'm sorry for the pain ... (The) truth is I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart.''

Barron, 40, had been shot point blank by Villasenor, who witnesses say walked calmly from the scene after firing.

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At StreetGangs.com, someone who knew Ronnie "Looney" Barron in his early years remembered his trajectory:

Ronnie was a part of that early history and could go in depth about all the circumstances that transformed his neighborhood into a gang, but when he was young, he was fully involved. Unfortunately, when he was 17, he was sent to prison for attempted murder. His prison experience did little to change his lifestyle because upon release, he returned back into the same life style. But soon enough, Ronnie began to see the light when the casualty count in Los Angeles continued to grow, which included his friends, loved ones, and even his own brother. He knew it was time for a change, and everyone who knew Looney witnessed a successful transformation.

This July, Villasenor pleaded no contest to one felony count each of voluntary manslaughter, possession of a concealed firearm, felony vandalism and being an active participant in a criminal street gang.

The victim's son said his father, who worked in youth development for the Amer-I-Can program, would have forgiven Villasenor: "I forgive you because I know if my dad would have made it through, he would have done the same thing," offered Anthony White-Barron.