Two teens who pleaded guilty to a 2004 Schenectady drug-related killing when they were only 15 years old have been denied parole, according to state officials and transcripts.
Tiheem Morris, now 24, who admitted to pulling the trigger in the October 2004 killing of Thomas Oeser, was denied just this month on his first attempt at parole.
His co-defendant, Brandin Brown, also now 24, was denied in April on his second trip before the state parole board.
Morris and Brown were each charged as adults in Oeser’s killing.
Oeser and another man came to Schenectady on Oct. 11, 2004, looking to buy drugs. Morris and Brown left, ostensibly to get more drugs, but instead came back with guns. Prosecutors said at the time of Morris’ guilty plea that Oeser struggled with Morris. It was during the struggle that Oeser was shot.
Both Morris and Brown later pleaded guilty to felony murder. Morris was sentenced to nine years to life and Brown was sentenced to seven years to life.
The sentences reflected their ages. The maximum sentence for a juvenile 15 or younger on a felony murder plea is nine years to life. For defendants age 16 and older at the time of the crime, the minimum is 15 to life.
At his parole hearing earlier this month, Morris talked to the parole board about his history with drugs. At age 15, he already had “a lot of problems with drugs.”
Morris told the board he had completed the prison’s alcohol and substance abuse treatment program. He also said he earned his high school diploma and is in a vocational program.
He had also been cited for a number of infractions while in prison, including fighting.
As for the killing, Morris said he shot Oeser because of “my pride, my ego.
“When he didn’t give me the money, my pride got in the way and I just — and when he attempted to run, I just shot, sir.”
At his April hearing, Brown cited his involvement in the robbery and killing as an attempt to prove himself to others.
Brown also took the blame for deciding to turn the drug deal into a robbery.
“I was trying to be somebody that other people wanted me to be,” Brown told the board. “So I was just following their lead. I was a follower at the time, so I just wanted to be accepted, but I was being accepted in the wrong ways.”
Brown told the board that he was involved with gangs at the time of the shooting. In prison, he said he decided to leave that life and focus on bettering himself with his GED and other programs. At the time of the April hearing, Brown had been infraction-free since 2011. He had also completed most of his programs, except vocational. He was in the masonry program at the time.
At the close of Morris’ proceedings earlier this month, the board asked him if there was anything he’d like to add. He added that he felt bad for the Oeser family.
“I would like to say that I know I took a life and there’s nothing I can do — there’s nothing I can do to get that life back,” Morris told the board, “but I sincerely feel bad for the family and I feel that if you guys give me a chance, that I’m never going to come back.”
The board told Brown he must maintain a clean disciplinary record and get a better plan for parole.
The parole board denied Morris, finding that his release “would be incompatible with the public safety and welfare of the community.”