The city teen acquitted in July of two murder counts, but convicted on lesser weapons counts, was sentenced this morning to a total of 15 years in state prison.
The sentence for 18-year-old Jalil Miles came before his one-time co-defendant in the killing, Michael Capers, also 18, rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in him receiving just 10 years in state prison.
In rejecting the deal, jury selection began in Capers case. If convicted in the killings of Alphonzo Pittman and Virgil Terry, he faces up to 50 years to life in state prison.
Miles’ sentence also came as the mother of Sheila Pittman, mother of Alphonzo Pittman, was allowed to make a victim impact statement at Miles’ weapons sentencing.
Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Frank P. Milano allowed the statement over Miles defense attorney Michael Horan’s objections. Horan argued against allowing her to speak, saying neither she, nor her son, were technically victims of the crimes in which Miles was convicted.
Pittman’s mother began reading her statement to the court, but could not finish, overcome by emotion. Her daughter, Alphonzo’s sister, Stacia Pittman, finished reading the statement.
In the statement, Sheila Pittman told of the loss of her son and how it has affected her. She told of losing others in the family in the months and years before her son was killed.
“Pain is something I know and know all too well,” the daughter read from the mother’s statement. “There is no pain in this world like a mother feels when she loses her child, even worse when her child is murdered.”
Regarding what happened that night, March 26, 2010, Sheila Pittman said she believes Miles knows more about what happened.
“I have many questions at this time that no one can answer for me,” she said in words read by her daughter. “But I do believe this defendant has one of the answers.”
Sheila Pittman asked for the maximum sentence allowed, 15 years. She also hoped that Miles and others would think before deciding to walk out of the house with a loaded weapon.
Sheila Pittman was overcome in July after the Schenectady County Court jury read its verdict in the case, that Miles was not guilty in either the 17-year-old Pittman’s slaying or that of 21-year-old Virgil Terry.
Prosecutors alleged Miles and co-defendant Michael Capers opened fire on Pittman on Hulett Street after an argument broke out. Virgil Terry was killed inadvertently, prosecutors alleged.
Virgil Terry’s brother, Dashaun Terry, was also charged in the shootings, but he took a plea deal to weapons charges and testified at Miles’ trial. In exchange for his testimony, he is to receive between 10 and 15 years in state prison. He has yet to be sentenced.
Prosecutors appeared to take both Miles’ verdict and Dashaun Terry’s sentence into account when making three separate offers to Capers Monday morning as Capers was about to stand trial himself.
Prosecutor Tracey Brunecz gave Capers three options, any one of which he could take. Two options had Capers being sentenced to an agreed-upon sentence of 10 years flat.
In one, he would have pled to a weapons count and tell what happened to the guns. In the other, he would have pled to a second-degree manslaughter count and not tell anything. In that case, he would have also received 10 years. He would have also chosen which victim he would plead in connection to.
Capers, though, rejected all three offers. Judge Milano went over the options with Capers, noting that, were Capers convicted of even any of the relative lesser charges against him, he would likely do no better than the offers placed on the table Monday morning.
Capers indicated he understood and was rejecting the offers.
Jury selection then got underway. Capers is being represented by attorney Steve Kouray.
The double-killing case, already high-profile, took on added significance in May when Pittman was identified posthumously in a federal indictment as a member of the Four Block Gang. The gang was the subject of a federal sweep that month that netted 44 arrests. But prosecutors made no mention of gangs in their case against Miles. Any gang issues are also not expected to be used against Capers, according to a pre-trial hearing Monday.
At Miles’ sentencing, prosecutor Brunecz echoed comments from Pittman’s mother.
“This is what happens, or can happen, when people illegally possess weapons and possess them with intent to use them against another,” Brunecz said.
Brunecz asked Milano to sentence Miles to the maximum, 15 years, arguing that the sentence would help deter others.
Miles’ attorney Horan argued that the sentence shouldn’t be affected by the murder case. His client was acquitted in the killings.
Horan asked for a sentence that would allow Miles to return to the community and make something of himself.
“The maximum is not only harsh and inappropriate, but it serves no good purpose in this case,” Horan argued.
Milano imposed the sentence without comment of his own.
He sentenced Miles to 15 years on each of the two weapons counts he was convicted of, running those concurrently.
The judge, though, did appear to give Miles some break. Miles is currently serving 3.5 years on a weapons possession plea from Binghamton, in an incident that happened after the Pittman-Terry killings.
Milano could have run the Schenectady weapons convictions consecutive to that sentence, however, the judge ran them concurrently for a total between them of 15 years.
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