Teen Pleads Not Guilty in Bronx 4-year-old’s Death

The teen accused of firing the shot that killed a 4-year-old boy caught in a gun battle on a Morrisania basketball court in late July pleaded not guilty Monday morning to murder charges in Bronx Criminal Court.

Rondell Pinkerton, 17, is one of four suspects indicted on charges related to the death of Lloyd Morgan. The child was in the playground area around 9:30 p.m. on July 22 when he was struck in the head by a stray bullet from a gunfight that broke out during a charity basketball tournament at the Forest Houses project.

Quiet tension filled the Bronx Criminal Court courtroom at Monday’s arraignment. Additional officers arrived to keep the calm between a few of Pinkerton’s family members and about a dozen family and friends of Shianne Norman, the young victim’s mother. A woman sitting beside Norman wore a “Stop the violence” T-shirt, and Rachel Noerdlinger, who represents Rev. Al Sharpton, tried to help comfort the shaken mother.

Norman said she is not sure what justice for Lloyd means to her, but she felt it was important for her to show up at court in honor of her son.

Shianne Norman, left, mother of a 4-year-old killed by a stray bullet, had the support of about a dozen family and friends Monday in Bronx Criminal Court. (JIKA GONZALEZ / The Bronx Ink)

“I’ve never been to court. This is not a part of my life. This is surreal to me,” said Norman, weeping quietly. She has begun looking into counseling to cope with her grief. ”I should not be here.”

Clad in an orange jumpsuit, Pinkerton, who goes by “Spyder,” entered his not-guilty plea in a soft-spoken voice and mostly looked down or at his attorney during his brief appearance. If convicted on murder, assault and weapons charges, the 17-year-old faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

“He’s supposed to be getting his high school diploma, and where is he now? He’s in jail,” Marie Williams, Lloyd’s grandmother, said outside the courthouse. “I have to think of my grandson every day he doesn’t come through that door. He’s supposed to be starting school with his sister … Where is he?”

The bullet that struck the child came from Pinkerton’s gun, but the suspect told authorities he was only firing in self-defense. Police have said at least 13 rounds were fired across the basketball court during the “Ghetto Angels” tournament dedicated to a teen girl who was stabbed to death one year ago.

“The amount of gun shots that I heard that night — it was ridiculous. I felt like I was in a war zone,” Norman said. “It doesn’t matter that you might have not hit my son. You endangered others.”

Three others were arrested in the fatal shooting: Courtney Kelly, 26, who was injured in the gunfight and faces weapons charges; Ronald Jeffrey, 19, facing murder and weapons charges; and Raymond James, 16, facing weapons and reckless endangerment charges, according to Bronx District Attorney’s office spokesman Melvin Hernandez. Jeffrey’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday and Kelly’s is on Sept. 26.

Pinkerton is set to return to court Oct. 22.

Anthony Ventura, Pinkerton’s attorney, did not return three calls for comment Monday afternoon. Pinkerton’s family members declined to comment outside the courthouse.

Lloyd was one of several young children caught in the crossfire of New York gunfights in recent months. A 3-year-old boy was shot in the leg near the Roosevelt Houses in Brooklyn on July 8.  Five days after Lloyd’s death, a 14-year-old was shot dead after playing tennis in the Eastchester section of the Bronx. On Aug. 24, a 13-year-old died after he was shot in the back in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. And a two-month-old boy in a stroller was grazed by a stray bullet in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx on Wednesday.

“The community has not woken up,” Williams said. “There’s going to be another little kid younger than my grandson. Watch.”


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