Plea deal builds evidence against alleged gunman in UAlbany student killing

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Date: Friday, February 19, 2010

ALBANY -- As an amateur rapper, Ricardo Caldwell condemned snitches, boasted about gun violence and nostalgically referred to members of a notorious Albany street gang as "the guys."

Then he was nabbed as an accomplice in the October 2008 murder of 22-year-old University at Albany student Richard Bailey.

So Thursday, Caldwell took on a new role -- key witness for the prosecution.

The 19-year-old man, who has lived in Schenectady and Albany, became the second of three codefendants to cut a plea deal in what is now a sole first-degree murder case aimed squarely at alleged triggerman De Von Callicutt, 19, of Rensselaer.

Caldwell, known as "Rico," faces a 12-year prison sentence and 5 years post-release supervision under the deal. It requires he testify against Callicutt, who faces the possibility of a life sentence without parole.

Also lined up to testify is codefendant King Modest, 18, of Albany, who pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree robbery Jan. 14. He faces 10 years in prison.

Modest and Caldwell, lookouts in the robbery, were both initially charged with second-degree murder. Both faced 25 years to life behind bars if convicted.

"At this juncture, under all the facts and circumstances, we felt ... that this was in his best interest,' Caldwell's attorney, Peter Lynch, said outside the courtroom. "He's taking responsibility for that part of the event that involved him."

Moments earlier, the slain student's parents, Jim and Lisa Bailey of Nassau County, and several Albany police officers sat in the gallery as Caldwell agreed to the deal before acting Supreme Court Justice Dan Lamont.

Caldwell, who wept at his arraignment in September, winked and smiled as deputies escorted him from the appearance.

"I'll see you," he said to his family.

In a statement to police Sept. 10, Caldwell was more emotional. He described the murder as a "massacre" and said he still has "nightmares every night."

Bailey, who hoped to be a New York City police officer like his father, was shot at South Lake Avenue and Yates Street at 11:20 p.m. on Oct. 20, 2008. Prosecutors allege Callicutt shot Bailey in the head -- then robbed a second victim at gunpoint seven minutes later at State and Ontario streets.

All three were apprehended in September.

Caldwell told police the series of events began when he lost about $160 in a dice game on Quail Street. He said he wanted to get the money back, which led Callicutt to say, "We gotta go rob somebody."

He said he, Callicutt and Modest were on bicycles when they encountered Bailey -- and that he and Modest acted as lookouts. He said Bailey yelled at some point. Caldwell was looking away when he heard the deadly shot.

He said he rode off and later ran into Modest, who asked him, referring to Bailey, "Do you think he's dead?"

Caldwell told police he went back to his family's home on Quail Street. He said Callicutt later arrived and admitted he "smacked" Bailey with the gun.

"I (messed) up bro," he said Callicutt told him. "I hope the (expletive) ain't dead."

Caldwell said to police he told Callicutt to get the weapon out of his family's home, but Callicutt warned him before leaving, "Nobody better say anything. You say anything, you (are) all going down with me."

The next day, Caldwell told police, Callicutt told him, "Don't say nothing, they got nothing," and, "It wasn't supposed to happen like that."

Caldwell told police Modest also said he and Caldwell "weren't going to go to jail for someone else."

In court Thursday, Chief Assistant District Attorney David Rossi told the judge the plea was justified by the cooperation expected from Caldwell. He said Caldwell did not intend to kill Bailey.

Caldwell, who rapped under the name Stack Chipzz, has posted several songs on his MySpace Web page.

One included a line about "sending (individuals) -- one shot -- right down to Albany Med!"

The song continued: "I don't give a (expletive), I'll leave you dead..."

He added, "If I catch another case, man, I'm goin' upstate."

Another Caldwell song called "Feel Stack," mentioned a friend who saying, "Now he's doing time become some snitch (expletive) ratted on him!"

The song not only referenced the Jungle Junkies street gang, based in Albany's so-called "uptown" neighborhoods of Arbor Hill and West Hill -- it mentioned Oct. 13, 2006, the day 30 reputed members of the gang were busted by the U.S. Attorneys Office in Albany.

"Some started putting it in and some started to snitch," Caldwell rapped. "Yeah it seemed like this whole (expletive) started to change up, couple of lame (expletive) started getting their name up, and it seemed like (expletive) always pop up -- 10/13/06 all the guys got locked up. Never thought First and Lex would get all washed up."

Callicutt's attorney, Cheryl Coleman, could not immediately be reached. When Modest accepted the plea deal last month she highlighted his lesser sentence in exchange for cooperation and said it "should be considered bought and paid for and blatantly unreliable."

Caldwell is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced May 27.

Robert Gavin can be reached at 434-2403 or