OAKLAND – Robert Antonio Romero, 29, of Oakland put his face in his hand as he was sentenced Friday to 31 years and eight months in the state penitentiary for carjacking and assault.

Four people, all family and friends, spoke on his behalf, but their pleas for leniency were not enough to soften the sentence of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jean Cartwright who was unsympathetic to their claims that the trial and the mandatory sentences for his crimes were unfair.

Cartwright interrupted Belinda Romero’s  assertion that Romero deserved leniency because she was not a good mother to him.

“Lots of people have hard lives,” Cartwright said.

Romero was convicted of one count each of carjacking, robbery, assault, shooting into an occupied vehicle and being a felon in possession of a firearm. An enhancement for discharging a weapon in the commission of a crime added 20 years to his sentence. The convictions stemmed from an incident on Mar. 10, 2006   in which James Henderson II of Newark  was shot in the leg and beaten during a carjacking in the 700 block of 45th Ave.

The judge repeatedly challenged Romero’s family and friends’ assertion that he did not deserve the sentence she was about to hand down.

“Tell me some of the good things about him,” Cartwright said.

Julia Romero, the defendant’s cousin told Cartwright how Romero always told her daughter to stay in school and not to be like him.

Cartwright was unimpressed.

“So, he’s a good role model?” Cartwright said.

Defense attorney, Brian Hong, also asked for leniency on behalf of his client, saying that the time added by the enhancement did not fit the crime.

“Twenty years is a lot of time based on these events,” Hong said.

After the testimonies, Cartwright,  ticked through the five counts against Romero,  sentencing him to spend the next three decades behind bars. Cartwright admonished Romero as bailiffs led him from the court.

“Maybe you’ll get some help. I don’t know. You’ll certainly have time,” Cartwright said.

Maribel Bautista, 25, sat slumped at the back of the court, convinced that an injustice had been done. Her shoulder length black hair hung in her face but could not conceal her tears. She is the mother of Romero’s infant daughter whom she will now raise alone.

“I think that the courts are so messed up. It’s designed to keep poor people and minorities down,” Bautista said.