NEW YORK – A Supreme Court judge has sentenced a Brooklyn man to 41 years in prison after he was convicted last month of first degree manslaughter in the shooting a 16-year-old Guyanese girl who authorities said rejected his advances.
Justice Deborah Dowling imposed the maximum sentence on 26-year-old Taariq Stephens, 26, for gunning down Shemel Mercurius in front of her three-year-old cousin in 2016.
He had also been charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child.
Justice Dowling said there “did not seem to be a rhyme or reason” for the fatal 2016 shooting as she sentenced Stephens on Tuesday.
“I’m not showing any mercy,” said Justice Dowling, ruling that all of Stephens’ convictions will run concurrently.
“This defendant will now spend many years behind bars for the callous killing of an innocent teenage girl who was taken from her loved ones far too early, and for undoubtedly traumatizing the toddler she was babysitting,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
“Nothing can bring Shemel back to her devastated family, but I hope that today’s sentence will afford them a small measure of solace.”
According to trial testimony, on May 31, 2016, Stephens pushed his way into a sixth-floor apartment while carrying a .40 caliber submachine rifle. He shot Mercurius.
Gonzalez said Mercurius told police the first name of the man who shot her when they arrived at the apartment. She was taken to Kings County Hospital, where she died 90 minutes after the shooting.
Gonzalez said surveillance footage showed Stephens with the rifle outside Mercurius’ door, and then forcing his way into the apartment after she rebuffed him. He turned himself into police two days later.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal said the shooting was “one of the most tragic cases I’ve ever tried.
She said Shemel was “tragically and senselessly murdered inside her own home.”
Justice Dowling brushed off Stephens’ claims of innocence, saying “all the evidence indicates it is you”. – CMC