A distraught mother faced her son’s killer in court Friday after learning he was only getting 10 years in prison for the crime.
“Where’s the justice?” Star Beauregard asked of Superior Court Judge Joan Alexander. “Where’s my justice?”
But the judge responded that her hands were tied by a previous order from a state appeals court that basically wiped out the state’s evidence in the case.
She then sentenced Nirone “Gully Guns” Hutton to 20 years, suspended after he serves 10 years in prison and followed by five years of probation on the charge of first-degree manslaughter.
“I apologize that the criminal justice system did not serve you as you hoped,” the judge told Beauregard. “I hope this plea of guilty at least gives you some closure.”
Hutton was convicted in May 2016 for murder in the shooting of 24-year-old Juan Marcano on Feb. 27, 2007. Hutton was sentenced by a Superior Court judge to 55 years in prison.
But the state Appellate Court granted Hutton a new trial, ruling the trial judge erred when he agreed to let the prosecution show the jury a videotaped statement made by a key witness who later recanted.
“(The witness’s) refusal to provide verbal responses to counsel’s questions rendered him functionally unavailable to testify which thwarted the defendant from any meaningful opportunity to cross examine (the witness) and to expose infirmities in the videotaped statement,” the appeals court ruled.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Harry said the reluctant witness has since been deported and is not available for a new trial.
In the meantime, the prosecutor said Hutton agreed to admit guilt in exchange for a plea to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter and the 10-year sentence.
He’s spent about six years in prison, so has about another four years to serve.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Hutton told the victim’s family, who were sitting together in the back of the courtroom.
His lawyer, Charles Kurmay, pointed out that Hutton was 21 when the crime was committed and is now 34.
“He has pleaded guilty without reservation,” Kurmay said.
But this didn’t appear to be any consolation for the victim’s family.
“(Hutton) did not show any leniency when he shot my son twice in the back. Why is he being shown leniency?” Beauregard asked. “He should pay dearly just as my son did.”
Her grandson, 17-year-old Jaden Marcano, told the judge he was very young when his father was taken away from him and didn’t have the opportunity to learn to play basketball from him or anything else.
And while the judge recognized Hutton’s apology, she told him that it rings hollow to the victim’s family.
“You’ve taken the life of someone and you’ve seen here how that affected his mother and children and I hope you take that to heart and not get involved in criminal activity again,” the judge told Hutton.
Juan Marcano was found lying in a stairwell of Building 5 in the Greene Homes housing project with two bullet holes in his back. Despite a police investigation, the case remained unsolved for six years.
Witnesses during the two-week trial testified that Marcano, who did not live in the housing project, had been visiting some girls there when he was confronted by members of the Harlem 5 Star Generals, a franchise of the Bloods gang that allegedly controlled the building.
Marcano took on the leader of the gang, Garrett “Slim” Bostick, and appeared to be getting the best of him when Hutton put two 38-caliber slugs into Marcano’s back, according to police.
An eyewitness later gave police a videotaped statement implicating Hutton in the shooting of Marcano. But during the trial, the witness sat in the witness box and refused to answer any questions put to him by either the prosecutor or the judge. The trial judge then allowed the prosecutor to play the videotaped interview of the witness to the jury as a prior inconsistent statement.