Cheyenne Baez's Killer Convicted of Murder
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A convicted felon charged with killing beloved East Harlem teen Cheyenne Baez after recklessly spraying gunfire into a crowd was found guilty of murder Monday.
A jury found Boris Brown, 22, guilty of two count of second-degree murder, as well as two counts of criminal weapons possession for the death of 17-year-old Baez, an innocent bystander who was fatally shot in the back as Brown fired aimlessly into the courtyard of the Jackie Robinson Houses in October 2010.
Baez was a well-liked student at the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women.
Brown's alleged accomplice, Devon Coughman, 23, was also charged with the second-degree murder, but he was only found guilty of a weapons possession charge. Coughman burst into tears — and the two men, seated next to each other, embraced — as the "not guilty" verdict was read for his murder charges.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Brown shot into the courtyard full of people as revenge for an earlier robbery. Coughman, prosecutors said, helped in the effort — one of them allegedly yelled, "Shakedown!" before Brown pulled the gun and fired into the crowd at least three times.
Prosecutors also played Brown's video-taped confession, in which he admitted to shooting into the crowd, for the jury. His defense lawyer, Jeffrey Chabrowe, had argued the confession was coerced.
Brown faces 25 years to life for his conviction. Coughman faces up to 15 years.
Brown's lawyer said he "really hopes the Baez family has some closure now," thanks to the verdict.
"Nothing's going to bring Cheyenne back," said Chabrowe. "But I hope they feel some kind of justice was served."
Baez's mother, Lisa Baez, said her "heart dropped" when she heard the verdict, but now she feels at peace.
"I'm satisfied that justice is served, " Baez said. "I'm grateful that I have the victory."
But getting to this point has been difficult.
"Life felt like a roller coaster. Some days I was up, some days I was down. Some nights I got no sleep at," Baez said.
Her daughter's death has caused her to work with other anti-violence efforts. Baez said she hopes to open a branch of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., a group of mothers who have lost their children to gun violence, in East Harlem.
"It doesn't stop here," she said of the verdict. "The job isn't done. You have to keep pushing forward and helping other mothers like me."
"Our city has seen a historic drop in crime, but sadly, gun violence—particularly among young people—continues to plague our communities," said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in a released statement. "In addition to prosecuting cases, my Office is committed to working with community leaders to take illegal guns off the streets and keep our neighborhoods safe."
Brown and Coughman are expected to be sentenced on June 25.