A 16-year-old St. Paul boy was charged as an adult Wednesday with allegedly jumping on Ray Widstrand’s face in August during a brutal attack that left Widstrand dependent on a wheelchair and struggling with everyday tasks.
Cindarion D. Butler was certified as an adult Tuesday and charged Wednesday morning in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of committing a crime for the benefit of a gang, first-degree assault and first-degree aggravated robbery.
Butler, Issac O. Maiden, 19, and three juveniles were arrested and charged soon after the Aug. 4 attack at Payne and Reaney Avenues on St. Paul’s East Side.
The other juveniles have not been certified as adults.
Maiden’s trial is scheduled for early November.
According to the complaint against Butler:
Witnesses told police that a large group of people was watching a fight between girls outside when Widstrand walked into the group. Widstrand, 27, lived nearby.
One witness said she saw someone strike Widstrand in the head with what appeared to be a can in a sock, the complaint said.
“[Widstrand] went down and a ‘whole bunch of little eastside boys’ began to kick the man,” the complaint said.
The witness said she tried to protect Widstrand as others stole his wallet and stripped off his pants.
Another witness said Butler hit Widstrand and jumped on his face, according to the charges. She identified him to police using a surveillance still taken from a city bus.
Video from the bus shows someone matching Butler’s description sitting in the back about 15 minutes after the attack on Widstrand.
According to the complaint, a girl shown on the video near Butler told him, “You was fighting with him, you got blood and [expletive] on your shoes.”
“Cindarion Butler then looks at his shoes [white tennis shoes) and wipes them,” the complaint said. “A female is also heard saying, ‘Yeah, that’s blood.’ ”
About 40 to 50 juveniles and young adults were in the area when Widstrand was attacked about 11:40 p.m. that night.
Widstrand was lying unresponsive on the ground and suffered severe and potentially fatal brain swelling.
Members of the East Side Boyz and Ham Crazy gangs allegedly participated in the attack, charges said. Authorities have identified Maiden and the juvenile who delivered the first blow to Widstrand’s head that sent him to the ground as members of the Ham Crazy gang.
In a recent interview with the Star Tribune, Widstrand said that he doesn’t remember the attack but that he forgives the suspects who beat him.
He uses a wheelchair, has difficulty speaking, and struggles with everyday tasks such as shaving and using the bathroom alone.
Widstrand is undergoing rehabilitation at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and will be there through December or longer. He will undergo more surgery in November to have the bone flaps on his head put back into place.
“The world is a good place if you just give it a chance,” said Widstrand, a programming assistant in suburban cable television.
Donations for Widstrand’s medical expenses can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank to “Ray’s Fund.”