Father of a young Bloods street gang member who died in a November 2007 drive-by shooting in New Brunswick forgave his son's killer at the man's sentencing Friday, going so far as to tell him to keep in touch."If you want to write to me or talk to me on a personal level you can do that," said Kevin Purnell of Somerset to 21-year-old Morgan Brown of New Brunswick.The comments capped an emotional hearing in which Brown apologized to Purnell and condemned the lifestyle that went with the crime."I'd rather be broke and a bum in the street" than continue living that way, he said. "All I can say is I'm sorry."Purnell's son, Dyshon Thompson, 24, was gunned down on Hampton Road on Nov. 5, 2007, in front of children playing touch football under street lights in the gang-ridden public housing complex.Brown and his co-defendant, Shakeira Summers, 22, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the case, were members of the G-Shine set of the Bloods. A dispute between G-Shine and members of NHB or Neighborhood Bloods, Thompson's set of the gang, sparked the killing.
"This was a classic gang rivalry," said Manuel Sameiro, assistant Middlesex County prosecutor.Brown was firing an AK-47 from the window of the drive-by car and Summers was using a handgun, prosecutors said.The case was marked by the interrelations of victims and shooters and their families. Purnell, who has coached youth football in New Brunswick for nearly 20 years, is friendly with Summers' relatives and appears to have coached Brown when he was a child.Brown's attorney, William Fetky of New Brunswick, argued for a lenient sentence, based on Brown's limited criminal record. Judge Dennis Nieves, while citing Brown's sincerity and remorse, rejected that.
Brown was sentenced to 20 years in prison, part of a negotiated plea with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. He must serve 85 percent of it, or about 17 years, before he becomes eligible for parole.
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