Reputed Jamaican gangster gets 31 years in prison for murder of NY teen
Lester Hinds, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica-born reputed gangster David Hardy was on Tuesday sentenced to 31 years for firing the bullet that killed 13-year-old Shamoya McKenzie on New Year's Eve in 2016, a crime that shocked the city of Mount Vernon in New York.
Hardy apologised to McKenzie's family before he was sentenced to federal prison.
Hardy had faced life in prison.
Prosecutors had however asked for 40 years behind bars.
After serving his 252 months in federal prison, Hardy will then be placed on supervised release for five years.
"Today I sit before you a damaged young man," Hardy said before he was sentenced in the White Plains Federal Court.
"I know I made mistakes. I take full responsibility for my actions. I can't place any blame on anybody else, go around it. I can't say sorry enough...if I could trade places I would."
Shamoya McKenzie was on her way home from basketball practice when a bullet meant for a rival gang member struck the teen while she was sitting in her mother's car on New Year's Eve in 2016.
Hardy, identified as the shooter, was the last of the four gang members charged in connection with the crime to be sentenced.
A total of 15 gang members were charged arising out of the killing but only four persons were directly linked to the murder.
Most of the accused accepted plea deals.
Hardy and the three others opted to go to trial.
With Hardy now being sentenced, it will allow McKenzie's family to pursuit a $15-million wrongful death suit brought against the city of Mount Vernon.
The issue was placed on hold while the criminal cases were still before the court.
The teen's mother Nadine McKenzie expressed disappointment with Hardy's sentence, saying she expected him to get life in prison.
In an impact statement to the court, she described her daughter as fearless and determined.
"She had a big heart, never said no, she tried to help everyone at the same time," she said.
"She was warm, loving, gentle, caring, respectful and funny. And she carried a smile all day long."
McKenzie then broke down, unable to continue, and a relative finished reading her statement.
Prosecutors said when Hardy learned he had fatally shot the 13-year-old in a failed attempt to gun down a reputed gang rival, he bragged that he was finally able to "catch a body."
"You are not going to be around for important times, important dates in your daughter's life,” federal judge Nelson Roman told Hardy at the sentencing.
"That's what you gave up by not following the basic tenants I know your mother taught you. Everyone, including yourself, is responsible for their own actions."
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