A Brooklyn judge sentenced a man to 41 years in prison for viciously shooting and killing a 16-year-old girl with a machine gun in May 2016. The victim, Shemel Mercurius used her dying breath to identify Taariq Stephens as her killer.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling offered no leniency to 24-year-old Stephens, reiterating the evidence points directly to him.
“All the evidence indicated that it is you,” Dowling said. “When you take a life, what do you give in exchange for life? There is nothing to give in return for a life.”
According to The New York Post, Shemel was babysitting her 3-year-old cousin Josiah when Stephens barged his way into the East Flatbush home and fired a single shot that pierced her stomach killing her.
“I am not showing any mercy,” the judge said.
Josiah’s mother and the victim’s aunt appeared in court and said Stephen’s actions have left a gaping hole in the family.
“The echoes of ‘Mommy, mommy, Shemel has been shot and Josiah is covered in blood’ pierced me with the anguish, pain, hurt, panic, confusion, grief and left me emotionally paralyzed and hyperventilating,” LaToya Mercurius-Price told the court. “The loss of our precious gem is beyond words.”
In video footage law enforcement said was too gruesome to show jurors in its entirety, Stephens is seen placing bullets into a .40-caliber Kel-Tec automatic weapon in the hallway moments before killing Shemel. According to reports Shemel and her killer knew one another and exchanged texts, but were not romantically linked.
“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,” Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “Nothing can bring Shemel back to her devastated family.”