on May 29, 2013 - 1:15 PM
A teenager convicted of first-degree manslaughter for participating in the grisly stabbing of another teen last summer in North Buffalo was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison, the maximum term.
Seventeen-year-old Ezeiekile Nafi apologized before being sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia.
“I know what I did was wrong,” Nafi said. “I do feel bad for it.”
The July 5 stabbing of 16-year-old Darren Brown was one of the most grisly killings in Buffalo’s recent history. His throat was slashed, and he was stabbed 54 times before one of his attackers set his corpse on fire on an old railroad right of way near Colvin Avenue.
Emily Trott, Nafi’s defense lawyer, said Nafi stabbed Brown only five times and that other attackers inflicted most of the stab wounds and burned the body.
Trott asked Buscaglia to consider youthful offender status for Nafi, which would have sealed his record and made him eligible for a lighter sentence.
She asked the judge to sentence him to eight to 10 years if he decided against granting youthful offender status.
Nafi was just 16 years old at the time of the crime, she said, “a child, with a mind of a child.”
“Is it right to throw this kid out because someone died?” she asked in court.
Buscaglia denied the youthful offender request. “Darren Brown was also 16 years old, and his life was thrown away,” Buscaglia said.
“In a case where the victim is stabbed over 50 times and his body is burned, I think that qualifies as something other than a youthful indescretion, and the judge apparently agreed,” said Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.
Homicide prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable, who, together with Assistant District Attorney Michael P. Felicetta, prosecuted Nafi, said there was no way to prove or disprove which of the 54 stab wounds Nafi inflicted.
Even if Nafi stabbed Brown just five times, the wounds he inflicted came after a serious beating, a slit throat and other stab wounds, she has said previously.
The jury did not convict Nafi of second-degree murder, as prosecutors had asked, nor did they find him guilty of the lesser econd-degree manslaughter count, as his defense attorney requested.
“Mr. Nafi has received a significant break of only being convicted of manslaughter,” Curtin Gable said. “To give him youthful offender status would be a travesty of justice.”
During the trial, Trott told jurors that Nafi was present when Brown was stabbed and that he did what he had to do to save his own life.
Like she did during the trial, Trott on Wednesday pointed to the two others involved in the killing: Demetrius Huff, 18, who previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in Brown’s death but then abruptly refused to cooperate in Nafi’s prosecution; and Antoine Sanders, 20, also known as “Deuce,” who prosecutors say participated in the attack, though he has not been charged.
Buscaglia has vacated Huff’s plea, and his trial is scheduled for September.