Gunman who blinded boy gets 17 year sentence

Greg Rawls, right, was arrested today in connection with a shooting in Camden that left Jorge Cartagena severely injured and facing blindness. (Photo of Jorge by Isabel Cartagena).

The South Jersey man who fired the shot that blinded an innocent 9-year-old boy was sentenced today to two terms of 17 years in prison.

Gregory Rawls, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder on Jan. 9. Rawls admitted he had been shooting at a rival  on June 27, 2011, near the intersection of Grand and Benson streets in Camden, according to the Camden County Prosecutor’s office.

Rawls, of Pennsauken, said he fired at Kevin English, 35, and as English ran, Rawls followed him squeezing off more shots.

Jorge Cartagena was walking home about 2 p.m. to feed his pet parakeets. As the gun blasts rang out, the boy was caught in the line of fire. A bullet tore through Jorge's temple. Now 12, the boy will never see again.

Before sentencing, prosecutors played a heartrending short film by the Inquirer's April Saul documenting Jorge's struggles after the shooting. 

Rawls, reading from a written statement, apologized to the boy, said a courtroom witness.

"I wish I could give him my eyes, but that would be too easy for me," Rawls said. 

The two prison terms will be served concurrently. Rawls must serve 85 percent of that term before he is eligible for parole.

Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or Follow @samwoodiii on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; Follow @phillynews on Twitter.