The teenager charged with the murder of 10-year-old Kathina Thomas was arraigned on Tuesday in Albany County Court on murder and other charges and apologized in a handwritten letter he allegedly wrote to the slain girl’s mother.
Jermayne Timmons, 15, of 131 Clinton Ave., who entered a plea of innocent to two counts of second-degree murder, manslaughter and possessing a weapon, allegedly wrote in a letter the following apology, which is unedited:
“I am so sorry that the gun I shot is the gun that could have takeing your baby girl away from you. I dind’t have any tention ta hert your child. I cant say I know how you feel but I can say I’m very sorry. That bullet was not suppose to hit her. All I want to say is that I am sorry. Please accept.”
The letter is addressed: “Dear the mother of the 10 year old girl.”
Assistant District Attorney David Rossi said he provided a copy of the letter to Kathina’s mother and father on Tuesday in court. He said he wanted them to see it before it appeared in media reports.
He said the father read the letter, but the girl’s mother, Shonda McAllister, didn’t read it in his presence.
Timmons wrote the letter on June 10, after he was arrested and when he was interviewed by police and they took his statement, Rossi said.
Timmons wrote it when he was asked if there is anything he wanted to say, Rossi said.
His mother and the mother of the girl, whose lives have collided since the fatal shooting, appeared in Albany County Court on Tuesday morning for the arraignment and it marked the first time they have come face to face. But they avoided contact.
Shondell McAllister, Kathina’s mother, wore dark sunglasses in the courtroom and took them off for a moment as she watched Jermayne Timmons enter the courtroom.
McAllister declined any comment and said nothing to reporters as she left.
Mosetta Timmons, the mother of Jermayne, sat on the opposite side of the courtroom with family members and quietly wept as her son was brought into the courtroom in shackles and handcuffs.
“Keep your head up, man!” his sister shouted to him after he was arraigned.
“My son is fine right now. That’s all you need to know,” Mosetta Timmons told a reporter as she quickly left the courthouse with her daughter and another son.
Police allege Timmons fired a bullet from a .45-caliber handgun on May 29 and it traveled more than a block, striking Thomas in the back as she played in front of her home on First Street.
He allegedly told police he encountered a group near First Street and thought he saw someone pulling out a gun when he fired the shot.
He said that he used a gun that everyone in the neighborhood used, which was kept in a garbage can in front of the Ida Yarborough apartments.
Public Defender Peter Lynch, who entered an innocent plea on Timmons’ behalf, would not comment on the letter that Timmons allegedly wrote and said the prosecution had characterized it as an “apology letter.”
“He’s a young man, he’s 15 years old and for anyone accused of this type crime, of this magnitude, it’s a very difficult situation to deal with,” said Lynch. “However the not guilty plea entered was meaningful and not just a legal term of art. This case will be going to trial.”
Despite the statement that Timmons gave to police and the emotional responses of the community since Thomas was killed, Lynch said he’s hopeful a jury will be objective in evaluating the case.
Lynch said he does not believe that Timmons fired the shot that struck and killed Thomas.
District Attorney David Soares, who was in court for the arraignment, said even though the weapon used in the shooting hasn’t been recovered, the prosecution has a strong case against Timmons.
In a statement that police said was given by Timmons, the teenager said he got the gun from under a shed and that after the shooting he placed it in a garbage can where it was kept. He said it was a community gun that everyone used.
Soares said he expected the defense to enter an innocent plea. “We feel we have the right defendant, he’s been arraigned and thus it begins.”
He said it’s a difficult case involving two children whose lives will ultimately be altered forever.
“One bullet. Two lives. One young lady dead and another young man, who we believe at the end of the day will eventually spend the rest of his life in prison,” Soares said.
Yet Soares said it’s not a unique case and Timmons is not the only 15-year-old the DA’s office has prosecuted.
“It’s an issue of young black children killing other young black children in the city of Albany and it’s time that people wake up and acknowledge the serious problem we have in the community,” Soares said.
He said it was premature to talk about a plea bargain.
“This is a tragedy, we have one mother who’s lost her child and another who is on the way to losing her child, I believe,” said Soares. “Parents don’t raise their children to pick up guns and to shoot guns at other children.”
The case will be over in two to three months, but Soares said the problems won’t be over unless changes are made in the culture. “If we removed handguns there would be something else. What we need is a change in culture.”
If convicted of the murder charges, Timmons could face a maximum of 15 years to life in prison, with a minimum of 71⁄2 years to life.
He is being held without bail at the Albany County Juvenile Detention Facility.
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Categories: Schenectady County