A Buffalo man was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison for the shotgun slaying of a teenager who was waiting outside his pregnant girlfriend’s West Side apartment last year to take her shopping for a baby stroller.
Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk gave the maximum sentence to Demario Smith, 25, for killing Shaquille R. Woods, 19, at Massachusetts and Shields avenues with a shotgun blast fired at close range.
Smith left the fatally wounded victim in the street. Smith fled in a car with his then-fiancee and a friend.
“This shooting was so unnecessary and wickedly gratuitous,” the judge told Smith. “There was no reason to gun down this kid in the street like a dog, which is what you did.”
A jury in October found Smith guilty of second-degree murder.
Before the judge handed down the sentence, the victim’s mother, holding a photo of herself with Woods, described in court how the killing impacted her family.
“He didn’t get to see his first child being born, because of the murder,” Sabrina Moppins said. “His family misses him dearly.”
Saturdays are the worst day of the week for her, she said, because she recalls the Saturday she received the call informing her the youngest of her three children – “my baby” – was dead.
“You’ll never understand the pain a mother feels when she loses a child,” she told the judge. “Please help us put a little peace in our lives.”
James F. Bargnesi, who heads the Homicide Bureau in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Paul Williams, urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence “with no hesitancy.”
He said the shotgun slaying culminated “a day-long robbery festival,” as Smith, his fiancee Sherelle Moore and his friend Gerald Yarborough drove around the West Side with a shotgun holding up people.
Neither Smith nor his attorney, Anthony J. Lana, made any statement before sentencing.
At Smith’s murder trial, Moore, the car’s driver, and Yarborough, who was in the back seat, both testified they saw Smith fatally shoot Woods.
Woods had been waiting outside his girlfriend’s apartment at about 2 p.m. when their car pulled up.
Witnesses said Smith and Woods talked, then Smith got out of the car with a shotgun and fired one blast at close range into the victim’s stomach, leaving him lying in the middle of the street in a pool of blood.
After shooting Woods, Smith got back in the front seat, and Moore drove away.
“Sherelle was laughing,” Yarborough testified, “because nobody was talking.”
Another witness testified Smith told him he had to teach Woods a lesson after Woods refused to sell marijuana for him.
Both Moore, 33, and Yarborough, 27, pleaded guilty to robbery for their actions the morning of the killing. Moore was sentenced Monday to 9½ years in prison. Yarborough was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison.
Moore married Smith about five weeks after the murder. She testified they got married “so I couldn’t testify against him.”