MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT—Nearly two years have passed since Harlem teen Cheyenne Baez was killed when a gunman recklessly unleashed a spray of bullets into a crowd, but her mother still sleeps in her daughter's bed.
Lisa Baez, who said her sleep habit helps her feel closer to her slain 17-year-old, gave an emotional plea to the court at Wednesday's sentencing of her daughter's murderer, Boris Brown, and his accomplice, Devon Coughman.
Brown deserved life in prison for cutting her daughter's full and vibrant life short "in the blink of an eye," she said.
"I wake up talking to her pictures," Baez said, sobbing in front of Brown, 22, and Coughman, 24. "All I have left are memories."
Brown never showed remorse, Baez said, instead treating the "trial like a joke, until the verdict was read."
In May, a jury found Brown guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, as well as two counts of criminal weapons possession for the death of Baez, an innocent bystander who was fatally shot in the back as Brown fired aimlessly into the courtyard of Lisa Baez's apartment at the Jackie Robinson Houses in October 2010.
Brown allegedly shot into the yard full of people as revenge for an earlier robbery.
Coughman, Brown's accomplice, was also charged with the second-degree murder, but he was only found guilty of a weapons possession charge.
Coughman helped in the effort — allegedly yelling, "Shakedown!" before Brown pulled the gun and fired into the crowd at least three times — prosecutors said.
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.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bonnie Wittner had little sympathy for pair.
Regardless of the reasons for heading to the courtyard that night in October, arriving with a loaded weapon, she said, was "looking for trouble."
She called the shooting a "totally senseless crime" before sentencing Brown, who sat quietly through the hearing, to 32 years to life and Coughman to 10 years.
Coughman wept through an apology to the family of Baez, saying he had "made terrible mistakes" and wished he could "go back and do things differently."
During the sentencing, a number of Baez's relatives, including her aunt, step-mom and siblings, spoke lovingly of Baez, a popular student at the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women who loved to dance and sing. They detailed the immense pain her death has caused.
Half of the packed courtroom was filled with Baez's friends and family; the other half was filled with Brown's and Coughman's.
"I love you ma," Brown called as he was taken away in cuffs.
"I love you," his mother tearfully responded.
Coughman's lawyer said he will appeal the sentence, which he called "grossly inappropriate."
But for Lisa Baez, the sentence left her "more at peace"—even though, she said, nothing can bring her daughter back.
The tragedy has caused her to spearhead anti-violence efforts, to "keep her legacy alive," she said.
"I will continue to fight," she said.
In May, the street near East 128th Street and Lexington Avenue, the site of her daughter's death, was renamed "Cheyenne Baez Way," in her honor.
"Too many kids are being killed on our streets," Vance said.