BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A 16-year-old was sentenced to 12 years to life in prison Tuesday for fatally shooting an innocent passenger on a Brooklyn bus, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said.
Kahton Anderson, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, was convicted of murder and attempted murder in February after he shot 39-year-old Angel Rojas in the back of the head, according to officials.
The teen, who prosecutors identified as a member of the Stack Money Goons gang, was on a southbound B15 bus in March 2014 when three members of rival gang the Twan Family boarded, prosecutors said.
Anderson, who was 14 at the time, pulled a revolver from his backpack and opened fire, officials said.
Instead of hitting his rivals, he shot Rojas, a father of two.
Prosecutors said Anderson ran off the bus to chase the gang members, continuing to shoot his gun until it was empty.
Anderson was sentenced as a juvenile to 12 years to life in prison for the murder conviction, and three to nine years for attempted murder. Both sentences will run concurrently, officials said.
His lawyer, Frederic Pratt, referenced adolescent psychology professor Laurence Steinberg in court, quoting from a passage that said laws recognize how adolescents differ from adults with minimum ages for driving, drinking and marriage.
“Somehow though, we lose sight of this logic when a young person commits a serious crime. But committing a crime, no matter how serious, doesn’t turn an adolescent brain into an adult brain,” Pratt quoted.
He continued from the excerpt that argues mandatory adult sentences don’t allow courts to consider whether an "impressionable" teen might grow into a "law-abiding adult."
“When I read that passage it almost sounded like he was writing it about Kahton,” Pratt told DNAinfo New York.
“Because Kahton is basically a warm, caring, kind, empathetic human being when he’s not involved in the violence of the streets,” adding that he also read a letter from Anderson’s middle school principal who said the teen feared he wouldn’t be able to make it out of his neighborhood.
Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson said in a statement that Anderson will “be held accountable.”
“This young man will have many years in prison to think about how his act of senseless gang violence destroyed a family and took the life of an innocent man, Angel Rojas, who left behind a wife and two young children,” he said.