A St. Paul gang member was sentenced Thursday to nearly 38 years in prison for fatally shooting an innocent man caught in the middle of a gang feud.

Desean L. Thomas, 23, was sentenced in Ramsey County District Court to 37½ years for second-degree murder, crime committed for the benefit of a gang in the March 30, 2012, murder of Leonard Christian Sr.

Thomas’ original sentencing date was pushed back from earlier this month after he fired his two attorneys and filed a motion for a new trial, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. Ramsey County District Judge Salvador Rosas denied his motion Thursday.

Jurors convicted Thomas in May of four counts in Christian’s murder. Rosas did not issue sentences for the other three counts.

Thomas was acquitted of six other counts, including first-degree murder.

Police said Thomas knocked on Christian’s back door in the 1000 block of W. Central Avenue in St. Paul just before 3 a.m. on the day of the shooting. Thomas then fired his high-powered hunting rifle, killing Christian, 56, as he walked through the kitchen to answer the door.

Thomas and two other members of the Hustle Made Mafia were looking for members of the rival gang, Gotta Havit. Christian’s son is an alleged member of the rival gang. The two gangs had been feuding, and two shootings had preceded the murder.

CHAO XIONG