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US court jails man for 41 years for the murder of Guyanese girl

Shemel Mercurius, 16, was fatally shot just before 6 p.m.Tuesday, May 31, 2016.(COURTESY MERCURIUS FAMILY )

A man, who shot dead a 16-year old Guyanese girl in Flatbush, Brooklyn apartment, was Tuesday sentenced to 41 years in prison.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Tuesday announced that the 26-year-old man was sentenced to prison for firing a single shot with a submachine rifle, killing Shemel Mercurius.

Before migrating to the United States, Mercurius lived with her mother at Blygezight, Section L, Campelville, Georgetown.

Mercurius was inside an apartment in East Flatbush babysitting her 3-year-old cousin at the time of the 2016 shooting.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant will now spend many years behind bars for the callous killing of an innocent teenage girl who was taken from her loved ones far too early, and for undoubtedly traumatizing the toddler she was babysitting. Nothing can bring Shemel back to her devastated family, but I hope that today’s sentence will afford them a small measure of solace.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Taariq Stephens, 26, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was sentenced Tuesday by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling to 41 years in state prison following his conviction last month of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child after a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on May 31, 2016, at approximately 5:50 p.m., the defendant pushed his way into a sixth-floor apartment inside 1406 Brooklyn Avenue in East Flatbush, while carrying a .40 caliber submachine rifle. The defendant shot 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius once in the arm.

The victim told police the first name of the man who shot her when they arrived at the apartment, according to trial testimony. She was taken to Kings County Hospital, where she died 90 minutes after the shooting. Surveillance footage showed the defendant with the rifle outside her door, and then forcing his way into the apartment after she rebuffed him. He turned himself into police two days later.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.