Brooklyn Woman Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Drowning 2-Year-Old Daughter Inside a Storage Container Filled with Water

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

 

Brooklyn Woman Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Drowning
2-Year-Old Daughter Inside a Storage Container Filled with Water

Child Was Found Unresponsive by Emergency Medical Services Personnel

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Sunset Park woman has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter for the 2016 drowning death of her 2-year-old daughter, Melody Zheng. The defendant put the victim in a container and held her under water until she stopped struggling. The jury also convicted her of attempted assault for holding her 4-year-old son’s head under water a day earlier.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant had a duty to care for her children and to keep them safe, but instead she used inexplicable and dangerous methods to discipline them – and caused the violent death her daughter. Nothing can bring back little Melody, who had an entire life ahead of her. But, with today’s sentence, we have obtained a measure of justice in this terribly tragic case.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Lin Li, 28, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling to 18 years in prison. The defendant was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree attempted assault on June 4, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on March 13, 2016, at approximately 8:50 p.m., in an apartment on 47th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the defendant took her 2-year-old daughter Melody Zheng into the bathroom to punish her. She placed Melody inside a storage container in the tub and filled it with water. The defendant then submerged the child’s head under the water until she stopped struggling, according to evidence presented at trial. She submerged her son under water a day earlier.

The defendant called 911 after submerging her daughter, who was found to be unconscious and unresponsive by EMS. She was taken to Maimonides Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m. The Medical Examiner determined that Melody had multiple bruises and contusions that were consistent with her being held under water and drowned.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Roger McCready, Counsel to the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cohen, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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Long Island Man Indicted for Strangulation Death of Pregnant Girlfriend Whose Body He Allegedly Discarded Outside Her Red Hook Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

 

Long Island Man Indicted for Strangulation Death of Pregnant Girlfriend Whose Body He Allegedly Discarded Outside Her Red Hook Home

Defendant Allegedly Dragged Victim Out of Car before Driving Off
and Abandoning Couple’s Two-Year-Old Son in Queens

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 25-year-old Long Island man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with murder for the strangulation death of Tatiana Walton, the defendant’s five months pregnant girlfriend and mother of his two-year-old son. The defendant allegedly dragged the victim from his car and left her body on the street outside her Red Hook home before driving off and abandoning their son on a stranger’s doorstep in Queens.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The alleged actions of this defendant – who’s charged with killing the pregnant mother of his child and abandoning his son – were truly shocking and appalling. We will never tolerate any type of intimate partner violence in Brooklyn and I am committed to prosecuting such cases vigorously and to hold violent abusers like this defendant responsible.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kelvin Philp, 25, of Shirley, Long Island. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and abandonment of a child. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on April 3, 2020. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count. He was also arraigned on a second indictment in which he is charged with aggravated criminal contempt and related charges.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on January 29, 2020, at approximately 1:45 a.m., surveillance footage taken near the corner of Lorraine Street and Ostego Street in Red Hook captured the defendant allegedly exiting a dark colored car parked outside the home of Tatiana Walton, 27, in the Red Hook West housing development. The defendant allegedly walked around to the passenger side of the vehicle, dragged the victim out of the vehicle and drove away a few minutes later.

An eyewitness who called 911 on January 29, 2020, at approximately 2:01 a.m., allegedly saw the defendant exiting a dark colored Honda Accord parked in front of the victim’s home and then drive away, leaving the victim on the ground.

Police officers responding to the 911 call found the victim on the ground unconscious and unresponsive. An autopsy performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death was asphyxiation due to neck compression.

At approximately 2:54 a.m., soon after the alleged murder, surveillance footage from a Ring doorbell camera allegedly captured the defendant leaving his two-year-old son on the doorstep of a stranger’s home on 84th Street near 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens.

It is alleged that when the defendant visited the victim on January 29, 2020, he was in violation of a Kings County Family Court order of protection issued for both Tatiana Walton and their son on October 31, 2019.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elaine Albenda and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ruthie Talansky, of the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, under the supervision of Michelle Kaminsky, Domestic Violence Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Sunset Park Attorney Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Approximately $280,000 From Two Families He Represented in Sale of Their Homes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

 

Sunset Park Attorney Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Approximately $280,000 From Two Families He Represented in Sale of Their Homes

Defendant Allegedly Received Down Payments to Hold in Escrow,
Issued Checks Returned for Insufficient Funds

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 70-year-old Sunset Park attorney has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with several counts of grand larceny for allegedly stealing approximately $280,000 in down payments he received to hold in escrow from two clients he represented in the sale of their homes.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly betrayed the trust of his clients and abused his power as an attorney, taking advantage of the escrow accounts he controlled to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. We will now seek to hold him accountable for this serious breach of trust.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Edmundo Roman-Perez, 70, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, three counts of third-degree grand larceny and five counts of issuing a bad check. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 1, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between October 2018 and March 2019, the defendant represented a couple in the sale of their $1,350,000 two-family home in Sunset Park. It is alleged that the defendant received a $135,000 down payment from the buyers that he was to hold in escrow until closing.

In March 2019, shortly after the closing, the defendant issued two checks to cover the amount of the down payment, each in the amount of $65,600, both checks were allegedly returned because of insufficient funds.

Similarly, between November 2018 and April 2019, the defendant represented three brothers in the sale of their $1,500,000 two-family home in Dyker Heights. It is alleged that the defendant received a $150,000 down payment from the buyers that he was to hold in escrow until closing.

In April 2019, three days after closing, the defendant allegedly issued three checks to the victims, each in the amount of $49,187.10, to cover the amount of the down payment. It is alleged that all three checks were returned because of insufficient funds.

The case was investigated by Supervising Financial Investigator Deborah Wey of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Katherine Zdrojeski of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

 

Brooklyn Man Arrested for Receiving $74,000 in Cash Payments for Pretending to Help Three Women Buy Mitchell-Lama Apartments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Arrested for Receiving $74,000 in Cash Payments for Pretending to Help Three Women Buy Mitchell-Lama Apartments

Defendant Allegedly Boasted of Connections with Management

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man was arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with grand larceny and other charges for allegedly receiving $74,000 in cash payments from three women who wanted to buy Mitchell-Lama apartments in Coney Island. The defendant had no ties to Mitchell-Lama management and did not deliver on his promises to help secure the apartments.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly exploited the frustrations shared by many Brooklyn residents hoping to find affordable housing, despite a booming real estate market. We will not allow opportunists and scammers to corrupt the process by which eligible prospective tenants gain access to reasonably priced housing.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Akim Sokolovski, 63, a.k.a. Kim Greenberg, of Coney Island, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, on an indictment in which he is charged with five counts each of third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny, and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on March 11, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between October 2015 and March 2016, the defendant, who lives in the Amalgamated Warbasse Houses located at 2790 West 5th in Coney Island, a Mitchell-Lama property, was introduced to the first victim through a mutual friend. The victim then introduced two friends to the defendant. All three individuals were interested in buying apartments in the complex, and Sokolovski allegedly presented himself as someone with access to management.

Furthermore, Sokolovski allegedly told each victim to pay him $15,000 in cash to help them avoid the waiting list. The defendant allegedly told the victims that the apartments would become available within six months to a year. After receiving the initial $45,000, he allegedly requested additional cash payments from two of the victims for other apartments. One victim gave him $25,000, while the other gave him $4,000.

The defendant never delivered on his alleged promises for help with the apartments and refused to return the payments. Mitchell-Lama developments are state-regulated complexes of affordable cooperative apartments. Securing an apartment typically involves a lengthy waiting period.

The District Attorney thanked the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal for its assistance in the investigation. KCDA Financial Investigator Marina Kuchmar also assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Theresa Robitaille, of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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An indictment is merely an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s

 

Queens Man Indicted for Fatal Beating of Brooklyn Video Game Designer in Early Morning Attack on Williamsburg Street Corner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 14, 2020

 

Queens Man Indicted for Fatal Beating of Brooklyn Video Game Designer in Early Morning Attack on Williamsburg Street Corner

Allegedly Attacked Victim After Being Refused a Cigarette;
Co-defendant Indicted in January

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 29-year-old Queens man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree manslaughter for the fatal beating of 26-year-old video game designer and entrepreneur Jose Zambrano. The defendant and a previously indicted co-defendant allegedly attacked the victim on a Williamsburg street corner after he refused to give them a cigarette.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The alleged violence this defendant and his accomplice inflicted claimed the life of a talented young man already making a name for himself in the business and video game communities. It is heartbreaking that such a senseless attack should deprive the victim, his family and friends from knowing his full potential. We will now seek to get justice for the victim and his loved ones.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Damian Diaz, 29, of Ozone Park, Queens. The defendant was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, second-degree attempted assault, and related charges. Bail was continued at $250,000 bond or $25,000 cash. The defendant was ordered to return to court on April 21, 2020. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Co-defendant Joshua Hernandez, 25, of Bushwick, Brooklyn, was arraigned on January 30, 2020 and charged with first-degree manslaughter. Bail was continued at $20,000. The defendant was ordered to return to court March 12, 2020. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on November 17, 2019, at approximately 4:30 a.m., Diaz and Hernandez approached Jose Zambrano, 26, at the intersection of Grand Street and Havermeyer Street in Williamsburg. It is alleged that one of the men asked the victim for a cigarette. When the victim refused, Diaz allegedly grabbed his arm.

Hernandez allegedly began striking the victim about the head before both defendants began taking turns hitting the victim until he and an eyewitness walked away. Defendant Diaz allegedly followed the victim, approaching him down the street and striking the victim again, causing him to fall to the ground.

Zambrano, an accomplished video game designer and entrepreneur, lost consciousness and was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he died four days later.

Police arrested Hernandez within an hour of the assault after he was identified by an eyewitness. Diaz was arrested on January 23, 2020 after police reviewed video surveillance that allegedly captured his involvement in the assault.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael Diamond and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Bussanich, of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Danielle Eaddy, Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Murder Conviction In Connection With 1995 Stabbing Outside Night Club in Gowanus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Murder Conviction
In Connection With 1995 Stabbing Outside Night Club in Gowanus

Eyewitness Described the Defendant Slashing Victim’s Neck During Gang Assault
But That Account is Contradicted by New Evidence

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that following a thorough investigation by his Conviction Review Unit (CRU), he will move to vacate the murder conviction against Christian Pacheco, who has been incarcerated since 1995. While the investigation did not uncover any error by the police or prosecution, new evidence shows that the testimony that led to the conviction – which described the defendant slashing the victim’s neck – was not credible. The full CRU report is available here.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “After a complete and thorough investigation by my Conviction Review Unit, including an examination of newly discovered evidence, we have concluded that the sole eyewitness, who testified to the defendant’s actions in this case, provided an inaccurate and unreliable account.

“While we have not fully cleared Mr. Pacheco from any involvement in this incident, he was unquestionably prejudiced because the testimony presented against him is not supported by a review of the facts and evidence. Simply put, the goal of accurately establishing what happened during this homicide wasn’t achieved during Mr. Pacheco’s trial.

“Due process and fairness are both part of the standards of review in all of our reinvestigations and I therefore must set aside this wrongful murder conviction in the interest of justice. I remain committed to our continuing endeavor to correct all mistakes and injustices that happened in Brooklyn.”

Pacheco appeared in court today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic who vacated his conviction and dismissed the indictment.

The District Attorney said that on December 2, 1995 at about 1:45 a.m. approximately 15 members of the Latin Kings gang were celebrating a birthday at Con Sabor Latino Lounge at 423 3rd Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn. They got into a fight with the victim, Lemuel Cruz, which spilled outside with the Latin Kings punching, kicking and stabbing Cruz, whose neck was also slashed with a razor blade. The evidence showed that Pacheco was also injured that night.

A bouncer at the club testified at trial about seeing the defendant slitting the victim’s throat. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder along with three other men and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

In 1994, the federal authorities conducted a citywide investigation into the Latin Kings, resulting in federal convictions of three additional participants in the homicide. That investigation elicited new evidence in the case, which exonerated one of the co-defendants who was tried together with Pacheco. In 2002, the Brooklyn DA’s Office asked the Court to vacate that person’s conviction and a judge agreed. In 2005, the conviction of a second co-defendant was also vacated, and he then pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was sentenced to time served after serving 10 years in prison.

The CRU conducted an investigation into Pacheco’s involvement, which included interviews with some of the witnesses in the state and federal cases. It concluded that the defendant was involved in the incident. In fact, numerous witnesses mentioned that he was one of the victim’s attackers and subsequent DNA testing revealed that the victim’s blood was on Pacheco’s shirt. However, the specific testimony used to convict him was not credible and most likely false because it has since been contradicted by other Latin Kings who participated in the attack. No other witness described Pacheco slashing the victim and the bouncer’s description of Pacheco was erroneous.

Because the error by the eyewitness was so prejudicial, the CRU could not be confident that the jury would have convicted the defendant of murder without it.

To date, the work of the Conviction Review Unit has resulted in 28 convictions being vacated. In addition, the CRU has found that of the cases reviewed thus far, 80 convictions are just and will not be recommended to be vacated. Approximately 80 cases are pending review.

This case was investigated by Senior Assistant District Attorney John Sharples, of the District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale, Chief of the District Attorney’s Post-Conviction Justice Bureau, and the overall supervision of Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel.

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Bedford-Stuyvesant Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter for 2005 Cold Case Murder of His Girlfriend

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

 

Bedford-Stuyvesant Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter for
2005 Cold Case Murder of His Girlfriend

Defendant Shot Victim Once in the Head;
Charges Filed Following Comprehensive Reinvestigation

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 37-year-old man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the 2005 cold case murder of his 22-year-old girlfriend, Desiree Cofield, who was shot in the head in the apartment the couple shared. The defendant was arrested following a lengthy and thorough reinvestigation of the case.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The violence this defendant inflicted claimed the life of a young woman and forever altered the lives of her two children who have grown up without a mother. It was important to me to create a Cold Case Unit to bring overdue answers to families like this, who now know what happened to their loved one and hopefully have a degree of closure that justice has been served.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Julius Esquilin, 37, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The defendant pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree manslaughter before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who promised the defendant a sentence of 15 years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision when he is sentenced on April 8, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on February 19, 2005, at about 1 a.m., the defendant and his girlfriend, Desiree Cofield, 22, had a dispute outside 642 Greene Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which continued inside their apartment on the top floor of that building. A neighbor heard an argument, followed by a single gunshot and observed a blue light flash. The neighbor then heard the deceased’s daughter saying, “Mommy, Mommy,” according to the investigation.

A neighbor called 911 after the defendant banged on the door yelling, “I know you heard that; call the police.” The defendant also called 911 and, when police and EMTs arrived, acted aggressively.

The defendant screamed, broke picture frames and jumped on the victim’s body, according to the investigation. The police discovered the victim on a couch with a single gunshot wound to the head. Her 3-year-old daughter and 4-year-old nephew were awake in the bedroom. The victim and the defendant also had a 2-month-old daughter together, who was not present when police arrived.

Police recovered a .380 caliber shell casing, a matching live round and a note signed by the defendant that said, “Even if I am gone, I still love all of my daughters and my big mouth baby mother, Julius.” No gun was recovered.

The defendant had a history of abusing the victim, according to neighbors, the victim’s relatives and prior police reports.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Detective William Simon of the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant Dennis Klein. The District Attorney would also like to thank DNA Specialist Susan Horan of the District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit for her work on the case.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Batsidis, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Rachel Singer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Forensic Science and Cold Case Unit.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting of Father of Four in the Early Morning Hours of Father’s Day 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 7, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting of Father of Four in the Early Morning Hours of Father’s Day 2018

Victim Accused by Defendant of Slashing His Tires Months Earlier;
The Two Argued over a Parking Spot Months Before the Alleged Slashing

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Bushwick man has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a 33-year-old father of four with whom he had been in a months-long dispute stemming from an argument over a parking spot and a subsequent incident in which someone allegedly slashed the defendant’s tires.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Sadly, a dispute over a parking spot simmered for months and culminated in the death of a father of four in the early morning hours of what was supposed to be a happy Father’s Day. This defendant senselessly escalated a minor dispute, taking the life of a beloved father who had much to live for, and forfeited his own freedom as a consequence of his actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as David Hall, 47, of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The defendant was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice to 20 years to life in prison. He was convicted of second-degree murder on December 12, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 17, 2018, at approximately 12:15 a.m., the defendant confronted William Fernandez, 33, on a street in Bushwick and accused him of slashing the defendant’s tires. The victim walked away from the confrontation, but the defendant continued to pursue him, following him for several blocks.

The defendant pulled out a gun and pointed it at the victim at the corner of Stanwix Street and Melrose Street. The victim then put his hands in the air and ran, but the defendant opened fire seven times, striking the victim once in the back and damaging his heart and lung.

The victim was taken to Wyckoff Hospital, where he died.

Surveillance footage captured the defendant confronting and shooting the victim. Multiple witnesses identified the defendant as the shooter.

Paralegal Sarah Quashie, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Analyst Alexandra Aber and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jane Kim, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Andrea Orlando, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Former Boyfriend Sentenced to 40 Years to Life in Prison for Murder in Execution Death of Correction Officer Who He Tracked and Ambushed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

 

Former Boyfriend Sentenced to 40 Years to Life in Prison for Murder in Execution Death of Correction Officer Who He Tracked and Ambushed

Victim Was Shot Five Times as She Sat in Her Car

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for the murder of a New York City Correction Officer who was ambushed and shot five times as she sat in her car in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, about to leave for work.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s calculated, cold-blooded murder cut short Officer Alastasia Bryan’s promising life and robbed her family and friends of a beloved daughter, sister, companion, colleague and friend. With today’s substantial prison sentence, this defendant will no longer be a threat to anyone else in our community.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Keon Richmond, 37, of Kensington, Brooklyn. He was sentenced in absentia today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to 40 years to life in prison. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon on October 21, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on December 4, 2016, at approximately 9:15 p.m., the victim, Alastasia Bryan, 25, was sitting in her car at the corner of Avenue L and East 73rd Street, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. She was preparing to drive to Rikers Island, where she worked as a Correction Officer, when the defendant shot her five times in the chest, hand and both arms.

The defendant, according to the evidence, was able to track the victim’s movements using a GPS tracking device registered with his name and cell phone number that he placed on her car three days before the shooting.

After shooting Officer Bryan, according to the evidence, the defendant fled the scene in a Hyundai Elantra, which had license plates registered to his girlfriend, Shirley Mejia, 26. Two days after the murder, Mejia paid to have the car stored at a mechanic’s shop in New Jersey and Richmond removed the license plates. Cell site records, surveillance video and other electronic data placed the defendant at the scene of the homicide at the time of the murder and captured his flight to New Jersey after the shooting.

Mejia pleaded guilty to first-degree hindering prosecution and will be sentenced on March 25, 2020.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Valery Paulblanc of the 63rd Precinct Detective Squad and retired Detective Patrick Henn of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad.

Paralegal Meghan Brancato, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Analysts Daniel Figlin and Alexandra Aber, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the investigation.

The District Attorney thanked Senior Assistant District Attorneys Robert Kaftal, Grace Hogan and Melody Huang, of the Law Enforcement Assistance Unit; Junior Clinical Supervisor Jamie Cohen of the Victims Services Unit and Mark Feldman, Executive Assistant District Attorney for Special Investigations, for their assistance on the case.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Olatokunbo Olaniyan, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Amanda Hersh, of the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

 

34 Alleged Members of Two Rival Street Gangs Variously Charged in 122-Count Indictment That Includes Charges Relating to 13 Shootings in Brooklyn North; 16 Firearms Recovered

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

 

34 Alleged Members of Two Rival Street Gangs Variously Charged in
122-Count Indictment That Includes Charges Relating to 13 Shootings in Brooklyn North; 16 Firearms Recovered

Some Defendants Allegedly Targeted and Exploited Young Women to Act as “Holsters” to
Carry and Transport Weapons for Gang Members

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced that 34 alleged members of two Brownsville-based rival street gangs known as WOOO (We On Our Own) and CHOO are variously charged in a 122-count indictment with attempted murder, conspiracy, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and related charges in connection with nine attempted murder shootings and four reckless endangerment shootings.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This indictment reflects the commitment of my office and the NYPD to continue to work together to target those individuals responsible for senseless shootings that endanger innocent people. We allege that these gang members’ primary activity is to track rivals and to shoot at each other on sight on the streets of Brooklyn. This is outrageous and will not be tolerated. I am confident that this takedown, which is focused on drivers of violent crime, will have a measurable impact on public safety by targeting the offenders who commit the violence in our communities.”

Commissioner Shea said, “When violent rivalries by street gangs inflict harm in our city’s neighborhoods, we answer with precision policing, arrests and solid prosecutions. Our NYPD detectives’ work in this case, together with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, will undoubtedly keep residents of Northern Brooklyn safer.”

The District Attorney said that most of the defendants were arraigned last week before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendants are variously charged with first-, second-, third- and fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first- and second-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, first- and second-degree rape, and related charges. The defendants face up to 25 years in prison on the top conspiracy charge. (See defendant addendum).

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendants are members or associates of two rival street gangs known as WOOO (We On Our Own) and CHOO, each of which allegedly consists of several small loosely affiliated gangs with little or no real hierarchy. Members of WOOO and CHOO are sworn enemies and bitter rivals of each other. It is alleged that they operated within the confines of the 73rd Precinct, but expanded their violence into neighboring precincts, including the 67th Precinct.

The NYPD’s Brooklyn North Gang Squad and the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau conducted a long-term investigation into violence perpetrated between these two rival criminal organizations from February 1, 2018 through the date of this indictment.

It is alleged that between those dates, WOOO and CHOO members engaged in a type of war where gang members would search or hunt for rival members in rival territories and then shoot them on sight. Shootings were conducted by both sides in a game of one-upmanship, to embarrass rival gang members and to contest geographic dominance over territories in which the rivals resided.

It is also alleged that the WOOO gang specifically targeted and exploited younger females to carry guns for them, i.e., act as “holsters.” It is alleged that the teenage girls would carry the guns, while the gang members walked nearby and directed the girls to various locations providing the weapons as needed for the purposes of shooting rival gang members. The girls were allegedly expected to face any gun charges if arrested, in the hopes they would receive a lesser sentence due to their age and gender. Furthermore, Tyquan Ellison, 20, and Jayquan Wise, 19, are charged with first- and second-degree rape for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Ellison is charged with sex trafficking in order to enhance his status within the gang by allegedly forcing the 14-year-old girl to have sex with Wise.

Among the incidents charged in the indictment are nine counts of attempted murder related to shootings in which individuals, including innocent bystanders, were struck and four counts of reckless endangerment related to four additional shootings, including:

  • On July 13, 2018, members of the WOOO gang went to Brooklyn Supreme Court at 320 Jay Street for the court appearance of fellow WOOO member Jayquan Wise, aka, JayDee. Following the court appearance, the defendants went to the nearby Fulton Mall area, where they engaged in a verbal and physical dispute with rival gang members.  During the altercation, it is alleged, defendant Equan Ware pulled out a firearm and shot at opposing gang members, striking a rival gang member as well as two innocent bystanders.
  • On September 17, 2018, at approximately 12:49 a.m., CHOO member Carlton Darby allegedly walked up to a building at 250 Lott Avenue and fired a gun multiple times. One of the bullets went through a window into an apartment where two young children were sleeping. No one was injured.
  • On October 29, 2018, at approximately 5:50 p.m., at 394 Dumont Avenue, CHOO member Tyliek Cannadate opened fire and repeatedly shot at a group of approximately five people standing outside of a playground in the Tilden Houses. Two individuals who were injured are associates of the WOOO gang.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detectives Michael Lassen and John LaMariana, and Police Officer William Pugliese, supported by the rest of the Brooklyn North Gang Squad, including Detective Dennis Westbrook, under the supervision of Lieutenant Ryan Gillis, Captain Matthew Bomparola, Specialty Units Commanding Officer of Detective Borough Brooklyn North, under Chief Michael Kemper, Commanding Officer of Detective Borough Brooklyn North, and under the overall supervision of Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Iris Das and Assistant District Attorney Martha Duffy of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cilia, Deputy Bureau Chief, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan R. Sennett, First Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Alfred DeIngeniis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Raymond Tierney, Executive Assistant District Attorney for the Crime Strategies Unit and Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau.

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An indictment is merely an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

DEFENDANT ADDENDUM: 

WOOO MEMBERS:

  1. Shamel Boomer, 17, of Brooklyn.
  2. Tyrick Bradley, 22, of Brooklyn.
  3. Kamiya Brown, 20, of Brooklyn.
  4. Camron Clarke, 21, of Brooklyn.
  5. Lawrence Cook, 20, of Brooklyn.
  6. Tyquan Ellison, 20, of Brooklyn.
  7. Henry Gissentaner, 20, of Brooklyn.
  8. Christian Graham, 17, of Brooklyn.
  9. Malik Hymes, 23, of Brooklyn.
  10. Jason Jennings, 21, of Brooklyn.
  11. Jakima Leggett, 19, of Brooklyn.
  12. Destiny Letich, 20, of Brooklyn.
  13. Genique Lewis, 19, of Brooklyn.
  14. Shan Mason, 19, of Brooklyn.
  15. Jaytwon Prince, 20, of Brooklyn.
  16. Nyshawn Ragsdale, 18, of Brooklyn.
  17. Tyshawn Stephens, 17, of Queens.
  18. Equan Ware, 20, of Brooklyn.
  19. Jaheem Ware, 18, of Brooklyn.
  20. Tykim Watson, 20, of Brooklyn.
  21. Jayquan Wise, 19, of Brooklyn.

CHOO MEMBERS:

  1. Tyliek Cannadate, 19, of Brooklyn.
  2. Stephen Coleman, 18, of Brooklyn.
  3. Carlton Darby, 22, of Brooklyn.
  4. Isaiah Feliciano, 19, of Brooklyn.
  5. Isaiah Hart, 18, of Brooklyn.
  6. Ramel Hickson, 21, of Brooklyn.
  7. Ta’Quan Jones, 24, of Brooklyn.
  8. Yussiff Kasim, 25, of Staten Island.
  9. Corey Pandohie, 19, of Brooklyn.
  10. Victoriano Roque, 24, of Brooklyn.
  11. Quayshawn Smith, 27, of Brooklyn.
  12. Brandon Waller, 18, of Brooklyn.
  13. Finesse Young, 26, of Queens.

Note: exhibits that were displayed during the press conference can be viewed here.