“I tell you today, I did not commit these crimes,” said Waiters, who was found guilty Nov. 23 of nine counts relating to the torture of a captive teen in Tracy. “... It’s unfathomable the things that are being alleged to me.”
“I can’t understand this verdict,” he added during a speech to the court, often pausing as if at a loss for words.
Waiters added that he had no ill will toward his teenage accuser or his family.
Though Waiters, a friend and family members pleaded for mercy, Judge Terrence Van Oss gave the Tracy resident three life sentences that will be served at the same time.
A jury decided that Waiters helped three other Tracy residents beat, burn and otherwise torture Kyle Ramirez, a teenager who was held prisoner in a Tennis Lane house for several months in 2008 before he escaped to a nearby health club with a shackle still around his ankle.
Kelly Lau, Michael Schumacher and Carén Ramirez previously accepted plea deals for sentences of more than 30 years in prison.
Waiters will be eligible for parole in 16 years, four months — he must serve nine years, four months that remain of an 11-year, eight-month sentence as well as seven years of his life sentence before applying.
Van Oss said that, in the most bizarre case he’s seen from the bench, he trusted the jury in its verdict.
“They couldn’t make this stuff up,” he said after listening to Waiters, his supporters and Kyle’s family. “It’s impossible to tell who’s sincere here. … But that’s why we have a jury system.”
But Waiters’ mother, friend and aunt all insisted that the man they know could not have committed the atrocities leveled against him.
“Tony has never had any problems. He had one speeding ticket in high school,” said his mother, Alice Waiters. She told the court that her son was good with kids, and helped her raise several foster children after losing his father at age 16. “The picture that’s been painted of him really hurts me as a mother.”
She, along with a friend who called Waiters “kind, sincere, honest and giving,” begged Van Oss to stay the sentence, sometimes through tears.
“I don’t see justice in this,” Alice Waiters said. “Judge, this is wrong. And I pray for your mercy.”
After Waiters was sentenced, the three walked arm in arm out of the courtroom without speaking to reporters. They were accompanied by Bobby Bivens, the president of the Stockton NAACP chapter, who also made a short statement in court.
Kyle’s aunt, uncle and father — with whom he has lived for nearly two years — spoke briefly during the hearing.
Sydney Perry, Kyle’s aunt, said it was clear that the jury was right in convicting Waiters.
“(Kyle) didn’t make it up,” she said. “The scars on his body didn’t appear from nowhere.”
She and Ralph Perry, Kyle’s uncle, said that the family’s happy this stage in Kyle’s life is over and that now he can hopefully move on.
“It’s tremendous closure for our family,” Sydney Perry said following the hearing.
Prosecutor Angela Hayes, who called the sentence “very fair,” said the district attorney’s office was “elated” the trial was finally over.
Waiters’ case, however, might not have seen its final day before a judge. Waiters has 60 days to file an appeal of his verdict to the San Joaquin County Superior Court.