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Jury convicts 17-year-old in Ray Widstrand assault

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After just a few hours of deliberations, a Ramsey County District Court jury convicted a St. Paul teenager in the near-fatal beating of Ray Widstrand on the city's east side.

FOX 9 reported that Cindarion Butler, 17, had been charged with assault, aggravated robbery and two counts of committing a crime for the benefit of a gang in connection with the attack. The jury on Tuesday found him guilty on the first two charges but acquitted him of the last two. Butler had been certified to stand trial as an adult and did not take the stand in his own defense.

The Pioneer Press reported that the jury, which deliberated about four hours, determined that the crime involved "aggravating" factors. That could increase the punishment Butler will face when he is sentenced before Judge Joanne Smith in March. The newspaper reported that Butler tugged at his collar and hair but did not otherwise react as the verdicts were read.

KSTP reported that graphic photos of Widstrand on the ground in a pool of blood following the August attack were shown to the jury in closing arguments.

Last Friday, Widstrand joined family members in the courtroom during a morning break when the jury was not present. It created a stir and the defense attorney objected to his presence, calling it inflammatory.

Widstrand, 27, was walking home from work on Aug. 4 when he came upon a group of people fighting in the street near his home. He was beaten and knocked unconscious. Police called the brawl gang-related and said those arrested were known members of the East Side Boys or the Ham Crazy Gang. A total of 5 teenagers were charged in the case.

Widstrand continues therapy after undergoing multiple surgeries. He's still recovering from a brain injury and missing part of his skull. He was at the court house on Tuesday with his parents. Speaking in a halting voice, Widstrand told reporters he was improving.

"My recovery's going good," he said. "Another week I'll have the mobile IV out, and I'll start going to outpatient therapy next week."

Last year, Isaac Maiden, 19, was acquitted of charges against him. In October, a 15-year-old St. Paul boy was given an adult sentence of 103 months that was stayed after he pleaded guilty to first-degree felony assault and agreed to testify. He will serve between 18 and 24 months and will be under enhanced supervision until he turns 21.

A second 15-year-old will face an adult certification hearing on Wednesday in juvenile court. He is also charged with first-degree assault, aggravated robbery and two counts of crime for the benefit of a gang.

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