LAWRENCE — Alberto Cardoza Jr. was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for the August 2007 shooting death of Lawrence High School student Jose Ramos Jr.
Cardoza, 21, was convicted Friday of second-degree murder and carrying a firearm without a license by a jury in Newburyport Superior Court after a weeklong trial.
Judge Richard Welch also sentenced Cardoza to four to five years in prison on the firearms charge, and ordered that sentence to run concurrently with the murder sentence.
Because he was convicted of second-degree murder, Cardoza is eligible for parole in 15 years.
The shooting occurred at a basketball court at Scarito Park, a place named in honor of a doctor who delivered more than 20,000 babies.
Ramos had just turned 18 and was entering his senior year at high school.
He was a night-shift supervisor at the now defunct Fresh City restaurant in North Andover and the father of a 15-month-old daughter.
Ramos and some friends were waiting to play basketball when another group walked by and the groups exchanged words.
The second group, which included Cardoza, left but returned a few minutes later and Carlos Martinez, 19, of 393 Chestnut St., Lawrence, pulled a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol from the waistband of his pants as the argument escalated.
Witnesses told police that Cardoza grabbed the gun from Martinez and fired four shots, one of which struck Ramos in the head, after he refused to drop a baseball bat he was holding.
Assistant District Attorney A.J. Camelio told the court there would be no victim impact statements because Ramos' grandmother, who lived in Puerto Rico, died while the case was pending and there were no other family members.
"I know the court has seen many terrible, tragic cases," Camelio said. "There is no reason for what happened to Jose Ramos to have happened. It was a senseless killing."
William White, the lawyer for Cardoza, acknowledged the jury found Cardoza responsible for the killing, and said members of Cardoza's family supported him and had attended the trial every day.
"There is love here in this family," White said.
Prior to sentencing, Welch said "someone being shot in the head over such a ridiculous spat is almost inconceivable in rational society."