Jerome Cannon’s mother still takes comfort in listening to her son’s music. She can remember what they talked about and what he said. She’ll never forget.
What she’ll also never forget, Shawna DuBoise told a judge Wednesday, is the day she lost him to the gun of Jeremiah Hamilton. Hamilton shot her son to death in September 2008 in a dispute over a dice game.
“I will never forget seeing him hooked up to all those machines that were breathing for him, blood on his nose, face swollen, laying there lifeless,” DuBoise told Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago at Hamilton’s sentencing, “and having to make that decision to have him taken off life support.”
He was and still is her baby, she told the judge.
“There’s nothing worse than losing a child, especially by the hands of another,” DuBoise continued. “That image will be burned in my mind forever.”
Hamilton was convicted in August of Cannon’s killing. Drago sentenced Hamilton to nearly the maximum: 40 years to life in prison. Drago said she found the evidence against Hamilton “overwhelming.”
Hamilton offered a defiant and lengthy statement, proclaiming his innocence and vowing an appeal.
Hamilton, now 28, was convicted of shooting Cannon Sept. 13, 2008. He wasn’t charged until January 2011.
On the day of the Cannon shooting, Hamilton struck up a dice game with another man, Victor Toomer, and several others on Lincoln Avenue. An argument arose and Hamilton struck Toomer, prosecutors stated at trial.
Toomer and his friends then chased Hamilton away, but he obtained a gun from a friend and stormed back to the scene with the 20-year-old Cannon. When they arrived, Cannon saw that the target group included Toomer — an acquaintance — and walked over to Toomer to try to calm the situation.
At that point Hamilton opened fire, striking Cannon in the back of the head, police said.
Cannon’s sister, Yalonda Cannon, also made a statement Wednesday, and both she and her mother wore shirts with Cannon’s image.
Yalonda Cannon praised her brother for trying to make peace that day. It was what he did best, she said.
“My brother might not have been anything to him, the defendant,” she told the court, “but he was a lot to a lot of people, and he has impacted a lot of lives positively.
“He was my best friend, a very special person to me.”
The shooting was Hamilton’s second in a matter of weeks. He is already serving up to eight years for an attempted murder in the Bronx. That shooting was the reason he came to Schenectady, to flee police, prosecutors have said.
Prosecutor John Healy noted Wednesday that Hamilton has been in custody for most of his adult life. He had just gotten out of prison for a prior drug conviction when he shot the man in New York City, then came to Schenectady.
Hamilton, Healy said, “has deep-seated anger issues” and no self control.
“The defendant is a dangerous, career criminal,” Healy told the court. “Our position is that the interests of justice and society at large demand the maximum permissible sentence.”
Hamilton’s attorney, Michael Horan, argued that Hamilton is still young and asked the court to “at least leave room for the possibility that he could be reformed and change his life.”
With Drago’s sentence Wednesday, which runs consecutive to Hamilton’s New York City sentence, Hamilton won’t be eligible for parole until he is in his early 70s.
Hamilton gave two statements, one attacking his conviction and his attorney, and one proclaiming his innocence. He claimed the “odds were stacked against” him at trial and that he refused earlier plea deals because he is not guilty.
“I did not kill your son, your brother, friend, Jerome Cannon,” Hamilton said. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for your loss.”