Raymond Cain appeared relaxed, reflective and remorseful in a 20-minute video played Thursday in District Court in Durango.
In person, he wore shackles and an orange jail-issued jumpsuit. He has a shaved head, tattoos that cover most of his body and wire-framed glasses – a stark contrast to a school photo taken 22 years ago in which he has long blond hair and boyish looks. He sat motionless – and for the most part, expressionless – during Thursday’s hearing.
It was the first day of what is expected to be a two-day resentencing hearing for Cain, who is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1995 killing of a Southern Ute Indian woman.
Cain, who was 17 at the time, was tried and convicted as an adult of first-degree murder for the death of Sadie Frost, 18. His sentence will likely be modified as the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that applies retroactively and prohibits juveniles from being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His case is the first of its kind to be resentenced in Colorado.
Thursday was all about Cain – from birth, to present, to his future plans if released. Friday is expected to be about the victims, Frost and Shawnda Baker, who were both shot in the back of the head with a .22 caliber handgun. Baker survived.
Prosecutors at the time said Cain pulled the trigger as the women sat in the front seat of Frost’s car. His did so to rob Baker of more than $2,000 – money given to her by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe as a per-capita payment for her 19th birthday.
The double shooting occurred late Jan. 31 or early Feb. 1, 1995, near a power substation in Bodo Industrial Park. Cain’s two co-defendants, Gabriel Rivera and Forest Porter, also were convicted of first-degree murder but won appeals and struck plea agreements to serve 40 years in prison.
The case received so much attention that Cain’s trial was moved to the 21st Judicial District, which includes Grand Junction, to ensure a fair and impartial jury. District Judge Brian Flynn from Grand Junction is overseeing the resentencing hearing.
Flynn could sentence Cain from 30 years to 50 years in prison, and he would get credit for time served and for good behavior. Or he could sentence Cain to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years, which would require Cain to convince a parole board to release him.
In the video played Thursday, Cain took some responsibility and expressed remorse for the victims and their families.
“From the bottom of my heart, I do apologize,” he said.
He moved from Connecticut to Durango at age 7 or 8, and had a fairly normal childhood until his parents separated when he was about 13. He then became involved with drugs and alcohol. He quit the football team and quit school.
In the video, Cain did not recount the events of the shooting.
In prison, Cain has racked up numerous infractions, including for drug use, illegal contraband and having tattoo equipment. But all of his infractions appear to have been handled internally; he hasn’t picked up new criminal charges.
He also has significant ties to a prison gang, 211, for which he is a “general,” or one of the top leaders, and can direct others throughout the prison system, said Bill Claspell, an investigator within the Colorado Department of Corrections.
He has been transferred to the Colorado State Penitentiary on three occasions for a total of about 10 years, which offers a higher level of care for people with behavioral problems, he said.
In 2014, he was moved to a prison in Pennsylvania, something that is costly and rarely done – typically reserved for the “worst of the worse,” Claspell said.
Of all the inmates in the Colorado Department of Corrections, Claspell said he knows two or three dozen by name, and Cain happens to be one of them because of his gang ties.
Jennifer Capps, a criminology professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver who has studied prison gangs, said it is common for vulnerable inmates such as Cain to affiliate with gangs or protection groups upon entering the system. Cain had just turned 18, he was small in stature and he had no street smarts for how to survive behind bars, she said.
The 211 gang started in the mid-1990s as a protection group before morphing into a full-fledged gang, she said. The name 211 refers to letters of the alphabet, 2 for B, and 1 for A, or Brotherhood of Aryan Alliance, she said.
The white supremacists gang was connected to the March 19, 2013, slaying of state corrections director Tom Clements. The suspect in the killing died in a shootout with authorities in Texas.
Testimony is expected to resume Friday, including from Baker and Frost’s surviving family members.