Police say Army veteran Timothy Alan Ray was looking to pick a fight when he shouted a racial slur at a stranger and threatened to kill him with a sword and military survival knife in the Tower District in October 2014.
On Wednesday, Ray, 60, of Fresno, was sentenced in Fresno County Superior Court to 10 years in prison.
A friend of Ray’s told Judge Arlan Harrell that Ray’s service to his country in the early 1970s turned him into an alcoholic and drug addict.
“He’s a man of honor,” Charles Robinson said.
But Harrell said Ray has a long criminal history and remains a danger to society. “He continues to show a disregard for the law,” the judge said.
In his defense, Ray could only say: “I am sorry that this happened. I’ve got my devils.”
Prosecutor Andrew Janz said Ray has had ample opportunity to turn his life around, but instead chose a life of crime.
“I appreciate that fact he was in the military. But that doesn’t give him a pass,” Janz said. “The DA’s Office took this case seriously because racist behavior will not be tolerated in the community.”
The DA’s Office took this case seriously because racist behavior will not be tolerated in the community.
Fresno prosecutor Andrew Janz
The sentencing ends a nightmare for the victim, Charlie Roberts, a Fresno Unified School District campus safety supervisor, who said, “With a heavy heart, I now can move forward.”
Janz credited a quick police response and Robert’s security training for saving his life.
During a trial in December, Janz told the jury that Ray was intoxicated when he went to the Tower District on Oct. 4, 2014, looking for a fight. There, he came across Roberts talking with some of his friends outside Starbucks on Olive Avenue. Roberts had never seen Ray before, Janz said.
According to Janz, Ray approached Roberts, cursed him and asked him if “he had a problem.”
Confused by the question, Roberts asked Ray if he was talking to him.
Ray, who is white, then called Roberts, who is African-American, a racial slur and pulled out a sword that was about 30 inches long and a Ka-Bar military knife, Janz said. Ray told Roberts that he was “going to either gut or cut him,” Janz said.
Fearing for his life, Roberts ran behind a car and yelled for help.
A frightened bystander directed security guards and police Officer Mark Witrado toward Ray’s hiding spot in a portable toilet. After Witrado found Ray with a sword and knife in his hands, he was ordered to the ground and taken into custody, Janz said.
In December, a jury deliberated about 20 minutes before convicting Ray of felony charges of making criminal threats and possession of a concealed and dangerous weapon.
I am sorry that this happened. I’ve got my devils.
Defendant Timothy Alan Ray
Court records say Ray’s criminal history dates to 1975 and includes a conviction for robbery in 1982, three convictions for driving under the influence, and convictions for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
In the 1982 robbery conviction, Ray, wearing a red bandana, robbed a gas station attendant at knifepoint, court records say.
In asking for mercy, Ray told authorities that he is mentally ill and has significant alcohol and drug-addiction problems. Robinson said Ray suffers from post-traumatic-stress disorder and gets a military disability pension.
Janz said, however, case law is clear – a defendant’s drug addiction is not to be considered as a mitigating factor if the defendant is unwilling to pursue treatment. In this case, Ray failed a number of Veteran Affairs drug treatment programs by not remaining sober, Janz said.
Ray is a danger to society, Janz argued, because he admitted that carrying around dangerous weapons is typical behavior for him. He also told law enforcement that he considered himself a vigilante “whose actions were sanctioned by the police to carry out justice in cases where he perceived the authorities were unable to act.”
“Given his long history of violence, propensity to carry weapons, belief that he is a vigilante and mental health issues, it is evident that the defendant has little or no prospect for change,” Janz said.