A man charged with the murder of two men on Hulett Street in 2010 will spend 14 years in prison after his conviction on weapons charges.
Michael Capers was sentenced Tuesday morning in Schenectady County Court on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Capers, 18, formerly of Brandywine Avenue, was found guilty on the weapons counts in October. However, a jury deadlocked on the top charges, two counts of second-degree murder.
Prosecutors had argued that he was responsible for the killings of Alphonzo Pittman and Virgil Terry on March 26, 2010. Pittman was the target, while Terry was a victim of friendly fire. The incident stemmed from some type of minor argument, according to prosecutors.
Pittman’s mother, Sheila, read a lengthy statement into the record at the sentencing. Wearing a sweatshirt adorned with the words “Mommy Loves You” and pictures of her late son, Pittman said there were no words to describe the effect her son’s death had on the family.
“I do not deserve to be in so much pain and without my son,” she said.
She said she looked forward to her son’s high school graduation and then college or whatever future plans he had.
“Death by gunfire, afraid and alone,” she said. “Whatever God planned for him was taken away that Friday night.”
Prosecutor Tracey Brunecz said Capers has a flagrant disregard for the law. He chose to possess a gun and to get out of the car and confront people who were insulting him and his friends.
“He and his friends acted like a gang and went back and surrounded the victim,” he said.
Countering the defense’s claims that Capers has turned his life around while in jail, she recited a list of more than a dozen incidents of fighting, disobeying orders, destroying property and possessing contraband.
“This is not an individual, your honor, who will follow any rules. This is an individual who puts himself above anybody else,” she said.
Defense attorney Steve Kouray said Capers has obtained his GED while in jail.
“He does have intelligence, he does have ability,” he said.
Judge Frank P. Milano also sentenced Capers to five years of post-release supervision.
Kouray has already submitted a notice of appeal to the court. He is claiming that there was evidence that was not turned over to the defense. This includes two anonymous phone calls to police three days after the deaths that Virgil Terry’s brother, Dashaun Terry, was involved.
Brunecz told the court that she cannot say for certain that the documents mentioned by Kouray were in the District Attorney’s Office. She took over from another prosecutor during the course of the investigation.
Outside the courtroom following the sentencing, Capers’ mother, Roshan, said there was a lack of evidence.
“Nobody has proof he’s been in possession of a gun,” she said.
Dashaun Terry was originally charged in the shooting, along with Capers and his co-defendant, Jalil Miles. Terry testified against Capers and Miles as part of a plea deal. Miles was also acquitted of murder in July, while being found guilty on weapons counts.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said there are no plans to retry Capers on the murder counts due to the difficulty in proving the case.
“It was basically tried twice with two different defendants with very similar proof,” he said.
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