Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Not guilty pleas in NYC hoopster killing
By Matt Ehalt
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
Tyshawn Brockington and Robert Cartagena pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Murry Bergtraum senior basketball star Tayshana Murphy.
"Mr. Brockington has denied the allegations and believes that he will be vindicated after a trial," Brockington's lawyer, Daniel Parker, said Wednesday.
The 21-year-olds were arraigned Tuesday and are being charged with second-degree murder and related charges. They are being held without bail; the next court date is set for Dec. 20.
"My client vehemently denies the charges and intends to fight them" Cartagena's lawyer, Daniel Gotlin, said Wednesday.
Brockington and Cartagena were arrested and placed in custody after being found in Columbia, S.C., in September. A joint effort among the U.S. Marshals Service, the NYPD, the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force and Operation Intercept led to the suspects' arrest.
Gotlin said a schedule has been set in which written motions are submitted and defendants move to dismiss the indictment on legal and factual grounds, try to suppress statements and identification procedures and ask for discovery of evidence.
"We are waiting for the prosecution to give a copy of the video tape, which they claim shows certain things," Parker said. "We needed to see what it shows and evaluate it."
Murphy, one of the top girls' basketball prospects in the city, was shot in the head and killed in the hallway of her home in the Grant Houses in Harlem in the early hours of Sept. 11. A feud between the Grant Houses and nearby Manhattanville Houses may have caused the killing, police said.
On the night of Murphy's death, Murphy's sister, Tanasia Williams, said that Murphy was waiting for her brother, who is nicknamed "Bam-Bam."
It was first believed that Murphy was killed because of mistaken identity, but Murphy's cousin, Pierre Walton, told the New York Daily News she was shot on purpose because the alleged shooters knew her brother was Bam-Bam.
The senior, who was ranked the No. 16 point guard in the nation by ESPN HoopGurlz and was one of the top prospects in the city, missed her junior season at Murry Bergtraum with an ACL tear. She started her high school career at Bishop Loughlin and spent part of her sophomore season at St. Michael's before the school closed.
The police previously arrested Terique Collins for criminal possession of a weapon after he was viewed on camera with a weapon at the Grant Houses around the time that Murphy was killed. Multiple reports said that Collins allegedly supplied the murder weapon.
Matt Ehalt is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.