The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 26, 2014

Judge believes man changed his life

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

FARRELL — Defendants facing criminal sentences always try to present their best faces, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts said.

However, their expressions of humility, regret and transformation often are not backed up, he said.

Christopher B. Cordero was able to back it up, Yeatts said

“You are a very unique case,” the judge said Tuesday.

Everything he has heard about Cordero is “extremely positive,” Yeatts said, and corroborates what Cordero told him in court.

To reward Cordero, Yeatts sentenced him to 1 year less 1 day to 2 years less 1 day in jail with 80 days’ credit on a charge of prohibited possession of a firearm, a count that resolved two cases: the Dec. 21, 2010, shooting of Deandre Chambers in Triple D’s Diner, 605 Roemer Blvd., Farrell; and the assault of a woman Jan. 13, 2013, in an apartment in the 800 block of Market Avenue, Farrell.

Yeatts noted he went below the guidelines – he did not say what they were – but could have sentenced Cordero to a maximum of 5 to 10 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Farrone said he had no objections to departure from the guidelines.

Cordero, 26, of 218 Fruit Ave., Farrell, is not allowed to possess a gun because of a 2006 conviction on a charge of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

Since posting bond, Cordero has started attending church, got a part-time job as a carpenter, started a side business as a party promoter, and become much more attentive to the 4-year-old son he lives with.

He noted his girlfriend, Charisse Kennedy, is expecting a child, which will be his fifth.

“I’ve never been so positive in my life,” Cordero said. “I’ve been going through some good things.”

“He’s definitely changed,” Kennedy said.

Prior to his last jail stint, Kennedy could not rely on Cordero to look after their son. Now, he’s interacting with the boy every day, an experience Cordero has found to be uplifting.

“Before, he would never do that,” Kennedy said. “He did a complete turnaround.”

Cordero’s attorney, Melissa M. Merchant-Calvert, said Cordero had a rough upbringing, noting his mother and stepfather both are incarcerated.

Cordero said his stepfather is serving a federal sentence for drugs, and his mother is in an Ohio institution for a drug offense.

“I need to break that cycle,” Cordero said.

“In the last year I’ve been with Mr. Cordero, he has made steps in the right direction,” Merchant-Calvert said.