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A 16-year-old was sentenced to 28 years in prison in Queens Criminal Court Friday in part for his involvement with the gunpoint murder of teenager Darryl Adams, who was killed in front of a South Jamaica housing project in March.
In court, Alexander Burgess looked straight ahead as Adams’ mother read a statement to him and Justice Dorothy Chin Brandt.
“You took a very special part of my life I can never get back,” Shanta Merritt, Adams’ mother, told Burgess in an emotional speech before the sentence was passed down.
Burgess’ fate came in two parts. He received 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in relation to Adams’ death, prosecutors said. He also received 12 years in prison for a separate robbery that occurred Feb. 25, according to prosecutors, where he and another man shot someone. The sentences will be served consecutively, according to Brandt.
On March 2 at 12:30 a.m., shots ran out in the South Jamaica houses, also known as 40 Projects, according to police. In response to the shots, an officer operating a surveillance camera trained the lens on a running figure, who then collapsed on a sidewalk. The figure was Adams, and soon afterward Burgess and 19-year-old Sean Barnhill appeared and one of them pumped another round in to Adams, according to surveillance footage. When officers arrived they observed Barnhill standing over Adams, gun in hand, the NYPD said. Barnhill’s case is ongoing.
Both were immediately arrested.
After his sentencing Burgess, handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit, was led out of the court by armed officers. He glanced at the room with a slight smirk on his face before the door closed after him.
Adams had another brush with gun violence just months prior to his murder. On an early June morning, he was shot in St. Albans along with Terrell Fountain, 18, who died.
At the time of Adams’ death months later, he was in the process of getting his GED and hoped to win a sports scholarship at SUNY, according to his mother. The teenager was involved in several basketball leagues, including the Police Athletic League. In the wake of the crime, several games were held at South Jamaica courts in his honor.
More than 1,000 people attended Adams’ funeral in an outpouring of support for Merritt and her family, and the gathering also morphed into a stand against gun violence that has long plagued the area.
Activist Erica Ford spoke at the funeral.
“This is not an accident that Darryl brought out all of southeast Queens,” she said at the March service. “This has to be the one.”
She has since held peace walks through the neighborhood, and Merritt has marched alongside other mothers who have lost children to gun violence, each of them bearing banners, signs or photographs of their late family members.
In court Friday, Merritt had to stop several times to compose herself while reading from a handwritten note, scrawled in blue pen on two torn-out sheets of notebook paper.
“I now write letters to my son Darryl and read them over and over,” she said, before reading one such letter before the court.
“Dear Darryl, how are you, my son?” she said. “I miss you so much. It’s not the same without you. Sometimes I don’t know what to do. One day I’m ready for the world, the next I can’t breathe.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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