Providence man sentenced to double-life following 2020 murder

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced Monday that a Providence man has been sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to double life sentences after being found guilty of murder and related assault and firearms counts stemming from a 2020 gang-related shooting that killed 22-year-old Devin Delacruz.

On October 27, 2023, Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers sentenced Justin Chandler (age 23) to two life sentences to run consecutively at the Adult Correctional Institutions, as well as an additional life sentence to run concurrently.

On June 9 2023, following the conclusion of a seven-day trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of one count of first-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, one count discharge of a firearm resulting in death, one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of assault with a dangerous weapon resulting in serious bodily injury, one count of discharge of a firearm resulting in permanent incapacity, one count of conspiracy to carry a pistol without a license, one count of carrying a pistol without a license, and one count of firing in a compact area.

During the trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that during morning of December 4, 2020, the defendant participated in the murder of 22-year-old Devin Delacruz and the shooting of his friend Nazaski Carrasco Smith while the two sat in a car to waiting pick up Smith’s four-year-old son from a bus stop.

“Here we have another case at the fatal intersection of gang disputes and the ready availability of firearms,” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “And once again, our community must bear witness to senseless gun violence and its reverberations. While nothing can reverse what happened, itis my hope today’s sentencing will bring the victims’ families some measure of relief. I am grateful to the Providence Police Department for their outstanding work and partnership during the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

That morning, the victims were sitting in Smith’s parked silver Toyota Venza at the corner of Putnam and Kossuth Streets in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. At approximately 11:22 a.m., a hooded person approached the passenger door on foot and fired six 9-mm rounds, striking each victim twice. Seven seconds later, the defendant drove up to the scene in a black Nissan Altima, the shooter jumped in the car, and they drove away. Rescue personnel transported both victims to Rhode Island Hospital where Devin Delacruz was pronounced dead and Nazaski Carrasco Smith underwent several surgeries for his injuries.

During the investigation, detectives obtained surveillance footage from surrounding properties. Using this footage, investigators identified the Nissan Altima as a rental vehicle from Richmond Motors registered to an individual with ties to the defendant’s brother. Richmond Motors provided the GPS coordinates of the vehicle, which placed the vehicle at the Courtyard Marriott in Lincoln. Providence and Lincoln Police responded to the hotel and apprehended the defendant and his girlfriend during the early morning hours of December 5, 2023. During the arrest, investigators seized the defendant’s cell phone and the Nissan Altima.

Investigators used surveillance video and cell site location data to track the defendant’s journey leading to the scene of the murder and show the shooter jumping into the defendant’s rental car before the defendant drives away. Additionally, investigators obtained incriminating text messages between the defendant and several others, as well as statements from two witnesses who met up with the defendant after the murder occurred, claiming that the defendant discussed a shooting that had just happened.

During their investigation, detectives established that the defendant targeted the two victims because of an ongoing gang-related feud.

The investigation into the shooter in this case remains ongoing.

“The Providence Police Department is committed to keeping our community safe and bringing justice to those who perpetrate acts of violence,” said Providence Police Colonel Oscar L. Perez Jr. “Today, justice is served. I commend the work of our detectives and officers, as well as the Attorney General’s Office throughout the investigation, prosecution, and now sentencing of this violent offender.”

Special Assistant Attorneys General Edward G. Mullaney and John F. Kilpatrick of the Office of the Attorney General and Detectives Theodore Michael (retired) and Matthew McGloin of the Providence Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.