Updated 05/29/2009 06:43 AM
One year since the shooting of Kathina Thomas
After 10-year-old Kathina Thomas was shot and killed as she played in front of her Albany home, our Steve Ference reports on what her death - and the community reaction and investigation of her killer - means through the eyes of the district attorney, one year later.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Albany County District Attorney David Soares said, "It's tough to look at a child who's in those photos with that angelic smile that's so infectious and not feel some sort of loss."
It's been one year since those photos of 10-year-old Kathina Thomas made it to newspapers and television. One year since she was gunned down just before 8:30 p.m. on May 29, 2008.
"Our community here in Albany, our black on black violence taking place amongst our youth is abhorrent," said Soares. "So it is tragic. It is tragic. One gun, one bullet, two lives, two families, and a crime-scarred community."
Kathina was an excellent student. Her favorite color was pink. The bullet that killed her as she played in front of her home on First Street was meant for someone else as part of an uptown/downtown rivalry.
"A child whose death was not in vain, that incident galvanized the community - a community in the process of reclamation," said Soares.
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Soares - whose office successfully prosecuted then-15-year-old Jermayne Timmons for the murder - believes the act of violence was a turning point for a community that had seen enough - a community where so many are afraid to "snitch."
Soares said, "The fact we are all operating differently now to preserve and protect the identity of witnesses so there is no fear of retribution through the prosecution."
Of course, the no-snitching mentality continues. And yet, Soares believes progress is being made, and that there was more than one victim.
"Fifteen-year-old kids should be giving their parents a hard time," said Soares. "They should be texting on the phone, complaining about the clothes they're wearing, should be watching the new Terminator movie. They should be looking forward to a wonderful, wonderful life. They should be making all their mistakes as teenagers will make, but in this instance you have a young man who is going to be spending the rest of his life in an institution, a five by eight cell without seeing his promise."
And investigators never did find the "community gun" used in the shooting - a term we've know all become too familiar with, because of what happened a year ago.
"The positive light I continue to view this is the death of this child brought to the forefront the issue of community guns, and it got the news media to focus more on urban crimes," said Soares.
It's a case that has forced the community to grapple with the toughest of issues as it looks forward, while taking with it the memory of a little girl who lost her life...one year ago.