HARLEM — A man was convicted Tuesday in the fatal shooting of Harlem basketball star Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy.
Robert Cartagena, 23, was convicted of second degree murder in the Sept. 11, 2011 shooting at Grant Houses. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
According to prosecutors, Cartagena and another man, Tyshawn Brockington, went to the Grant Houses around 4 a.m. that day as part of an ongoing dispute between young people from the Manhattanville Houses and Grant Houses in West Harlem.
Cartagena had been assaulted in a dispute the day before the murder, according to authorities. When the two men showed up, Murphy, 18, ran. The men gave chase to the fourth floor and Murphy could be heard pleading for her life before three shots were fired.
Brockington was also convicted last June of second degree murder.
Both men, who denied their involvement in Murphy's death, were found hiding in a closet in South Carolina 10 days after the murder. Police said security footage placed both men at the scene with weapons.
A third man, Terique Collins, was acquitted last year of weapons possession charges after being accused of helping Cartagena and Brockington purchase the gun and storing it for them.
Murphy, a senior at Murry Bergtraum High School was listed as among the top high school point guards in the country. She was being recruited by several colleges, according to her father Taylon Murphy and hoped to play in the Women's National Basketball Association one day and move her family out of public housing.
“Tayshana Murphy was only 18 years old and dreamed of playing professional basketball, when she was shot to death by Robert Cartagena and Tyshawn Brockington,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.
“We have seen too many innocent victims lose their lives – and too many families grieving loved ones — because of senseless feuds between young people who wreak havoc in their neighborhoods."
Jackie Rowe-Adams, co-founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., a group that works to prevent gun violence, said the conviction sends a strong message about the fruitlessness of violence.
"You don't get away with committing murders or crime or carrying guns," Rowe-Adams said. "There are consequences."
Since the shooting, Rowe-Adams said police from the 26th Precinct and anti-violence groups have focused on the two housing developments to reduce friction and violence between the young people there.
"They need to put the guns down because they are hurting the families of the victims and their own families," said Rowe-Adams. "People are tired of losing family members."