By Jeff Mays
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The Harlem man accused of killing a 17-year-old girl in a stray-bullet shooting admitted to police that he fired a gun into a crowd, but didn't mean to hit anyone, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Boris Brown, 20, is charged with murder in the the Oct. 3 shooting of Cheyenne Baez at the Jackie Robinson Houses at 112 E. 128th Street. Despite Brown's claim that he did not aim at any particular person, prosecutors say he and his alleged accomplice, 23-year-old Devon Coughman, believed that someone who robbed them earlier that day was in the crowd.
Coughman allegedly announced the start of the violence by yelling "shakedown" three times, after which Brown "took out a gun and started firing wildly," Assistant District Attorney Larry Glasser said during Brown's appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court.
"He admitted firing three shots into the crowd," Glasser said of Brown. "He identified himself on video entering the building."
Glasser added, "He stated he did fire in the courtyard although he did not mean to hit anyone in particular."
Baez, a student at the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women, was shot in the upper back. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Harlem Hospital.
Brown's lawyer, Orlando Balcacer, said his client's confession was coerced after 17 hours of interrogation. Despite the prosecutors' allegations about the videotape, Balcacer said there was no physical evidence tying Brown to the crime. And there was only one witness who identified Brown as the shooter, Balcacer said.
"When you say 'admitted to the crime,' that is based on a 20-year-old kid who said what they wanted him to say to get out of there," Balcacer said. "His rights were violated."
Balcacer said the type of weapon prosecutors say was used in the murder did not match the bullet found in the victim. Glasser admitted that the bullet that killed Baez was not consistent with the weapon Brown claimed to have used in the shooting.
Balcacer said the shooting was an "unfortunate tragedy" and apologized to Baez' family, but he called his client a victim of "mistaken identification."
Brown, whom prosecutors say had prior convictions, including one for drug sales, entered the courtroom in a sweatshirt and jeans and looked back several times to friends and family.
Baez's father was there, too, but declined to comment. After the hearing, he stood against a wall with his head down.
Coughman was arrested in New Jersey last month and is awaiting extradition to New York.