The teenage boy who allegedly threw the first punch that knocked out Ray Widstrand last year was certified Wednesday to stand trial as an adult in the brutal attack that nearly cost Widstrand his life.
Charles K. Redding, 16, of St. Paul was charged in Ramsey County District Court with first-degree assault, first-degree aggravated robbery and two counts of crime committed for the benefit of a gang. Redding was 15 when Widstrand was stomped on, punched and kicked Aug. 4 on E. Minnehaha Avenue at Preble Street.
According to the criminal complaint against Redding and to witnesses who testified at the trials of two other teens tried in the attack, Redding launched the first punch into Widstrand’s head that knocked him out. The complaint and witnesses said that’s when several other teens joined the attack, stripped Widstrand of his shorts, rifled through his pockets and left him for dead in the road.
Widstrand, 27, suffered traumatic brain injuries. Authorities and doctors initially feared he would die. He recovered and had part of his skull temporarily removed. Widstrand, who continues to recover, showed that he still had his quick wit when he attended parts of the trial of Cindarion D. Butler, who was tried in January for his role in the assault.
Butler, 17, was convicted of aiding and abetting first-degree assault and first-degree robbery. The jury acquitted him of two counts of crime committed for the benefit of a gang. Issac O. Maiden, 19, was tried in November and acquitted on all counts, partly due to the confusing and contradicting testimony of several teenage witnesses.
In addition to Redding, Butler and Maiden, one juvenile has pleaded guilty in the attack and charges against another were dismissed. Authorities have said that the case remains open due to speculation that more teens were involved.
According to witnesses and court documents, 50 or more teens were at a party on Preble Street that night. Dozens streamed out of the house to watch girls fighting in the street. That’s when Widstrand, who lived nearby, walked through the crowd and helped a girl off the ground.
Witnesses said Redding came up, seemingly unprovoked, and punched Widstrand, who fell and never regained consciousness.
Authorities believe that several of the teens and those charged have ties to a number of St. Paul gangs, and that the attack could have been motivated by a desire to prove their toughness.