Gunman's sentence elicits anger

Posted: August 12, 2012

A PHILADELPHIA JUDGE Friday stunned a courtroom when she sentenced a gun-wielding thug to the minimum sentence of five to 10 years in state prison for mistakenly shooting two brothers, 8 and 2, while firing at his intended target on a Southwest Philadelphia street in September 2010.

Assistant District Attorney Bill Davis, who asked that defendant Kevin Pickard be sentenced to 32 1/2 to 65 years for his June conviction on three counts of aggravated assault, said he would file a motion asking Common Pleas Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris to reconsider her sentence.

"I think the sentence is ridiculous," Davis said. "I think it sends the exact wrong message out to the most violent criminals in our city: that you can shoot our children and get the minimum sentence for that. With all do respect to the court, I don't think it makes any sense and I honestly don't understand it."

On the day of the shooting, Pickard, 26, of Redfield Street near Callowhill, was on probation for a drug conviction. After Friday's sentencing, he turned to his extended family and grinned broadly.

Moments before, he apologized to them and to Anetta Johns, 26, the mother of two of his victims, Joseph Brown, now 10, who was shot in the buttocks, and Deshauon Brown, now 4, who was shot in the groin. The boys were playing outside their home near 67th Street and Woodland Avenue at 3:30 p.m. when the bullets Pickard meant for rival Marquis Wesley, 19, tore into them. Shot in the back, Wesley has since recovered.

"I'm ashamed to say that I was a part of anything that took place," said Pickard, who added that he has three children.

Johns and her husband, Dwayne Dillard, 27, bolted from the courtroom seconds after sentencing.

"I don't think it's fair. Five to 10 years for shooting kids? Please! That's nothing; he almost died," Johns said of Deshauon, who had two blood transfusions during surgery. "I'm speechless."

Dillard said the boys are now afraid to go outside unless he, their mother or grandmother is with them. "This impacted them tremendously."

To the judge he added: "She needs to feel that pain . . . what those kids went through. If that judge felt that pain, I guarantee you that 32 to 65 would have been on the table. Nothing less."

Dejected, Johns said, "I just would like her to rethink her judgment . . . five to 10 years. I just don't understand."

Many in the courtroom were also confused with the judge's reasoning. Before sentencing Pickard, she said the court could not ignore the fact that "two innocent children were shot," and due to the fact that he was on probation at the time of the shooting "the court finds that there is not a lot of rehabilitative potential."

The prosecutor had asked for three consecutive sentences of 10 to 20 years for each victim and 2 1/2 to five years for the gun-possession conviction.

The judge also sentenced Pickard to five years'probation after his release. With time served, he could be out in about three years.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or deanm@

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