Two men accused of murdering high school basketball star Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy in her Harlem apartment building last month pleaded not guilty today in an emotionally-charged courtroom. During the proceedings, prosecutors recommended a sentence of 22 years to life for Tyshawn Brockington, 21, and Robert Cartagena, 20, who allegedly shot Murphy as she pleaded for her life on September 11th. And after hearing prosecutors recommend the sentence, an incredulous friend of the two young men shouted out in the courtroom, "What?" This prompted retorts from Murphy's loved ones, one of whom fired back, "That's right," the Daily News reports.
"Folks in the audience, a case of this nature involves high levels of emotions," Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber warned those in the gallery, according to DNAinfo. "It is important to me for both sides of this fence so to speak to remain quiet and maintain the dignity of the court." A dozen extra court officers were reportedly called in to maintain security in the courtroom, and after it was over, Murphy's family was escorted out first to avoid a confrontation with Brockington and Cartagena's supporters.
The two men were arrested in South Carolina ten days after Murphy's murder, which investigators believe had to do with an ongoing feud between residents of the Manhattanville Houses and those living in the nearby Grant Houses. Murphy's cousin says that one of Murphy's brothers, Bam-Bam, was involved in the long-running dispute with his sister's assailants. "They shot her because that was her brother," he told the Daily News. "It was no mistake. They knew." An alleged gun runner, Terique Collins, 24, is also being held on $100,000 bail; he's accused of providing the gun.
Murphy was being recruited by a number of colleges, and was determined to use her talents on the basketball court to get her mother out of the projects. "We're holding it together to let the kids know you've got to stop reacting," her former coach, Chez Williams, told DNAinfo, adding he hopes her death will end "some of the nonsense that goes on."