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Two members of the notorious Crips street gang were convicted Friday of killing a 13-year-old Jamaica boy, whose 2009 death from a stray bullet has been one of several in southeast Queens galvanizing the community against gun violence, the Queens district attorney’s office said.
“It really had an impact,” said Donna Hood, mother of victim Kevin Miller Jr. “It had an impact on that entire community.”
Gregory Calas, 21, of 228th Street and 145th Avenue in St. Albans, and Nnonso Ekwegbalu, 19, of 183rd Street and 141st Avenue in Springfield Gardens, who are both Crips, were both found guilty after a six-week trial presided over by Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak.
The two men had been involved in a physical fight with the Bloods on Oct. 2, 2009 at around 3:15 p.m., the DA said. Calas had fired his .380 semi-automatic revolver and Ekwegbalu had fired another gun at three unarmed Blood members he had been fighting as they tried to run away in front of a car wash at Linden and Springfield boulevards in Cambria Heights, the DA said.
One of their bullets ended up striking Kevin, who had been walking to a nearby McDonalds, in the head and killing him instantly, the DA said. Another bullet hit 17-year-old Pedro Garcia in the left leg, the DA said. Garcia, who was working at the car wash, was treated at a Queens hospital, the DA said.
“The defendants in this case cut short the life of an innocent 13-year-old student and wounded a second teen who was working at a car wash by engaging in reckless – and ultimately fatal – gun violence,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “The streets of Queens County must not be turned into deadly battle grounds for these rival gangs.”
Kevin, who like Garcia had no involvement in youth gangs, was a hardworking student and a member of many community groups.
After the death of her son, Hood started the KLM Jr. Foundation to improve the lives of youths in the community and award scholarships. She has also partnered with anti-gun groups like Life Support and Life Camp.
Hood said the case was difficult to bring to trial as many of the youths involved in the incident were afraid to come forward and put their lives in jeopardy. She said considering the circumstances she felt relief.
“I feel like, rightfully, justice was served,” she said.
Calas and Ekwegbalu shared the same trial, but their cases were both considered by separate juries, which found each of them guilty, the DA said.
Calas’ jury found him guilty of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree attempted murder, two counts of assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, the DA said. Ekwegbalu’s jury convicted him of first-degree manslaughter, two counts of assault and one count of criminal possession of a weapon, the DA said.
Calas and Ekwegbalu both face 50 years in prison at their sentencing, which will be held Jan. 9.
Hood said that she has asked to speak at their sentencing. She said she does not seek sympathy or even an apology from her son’s killers, but she wants them to have long sentences and to realize the impact of their crimes.
“I just want to be able to state how I feel,” Hood said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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