PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — One of the men charged in the death of a 12-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet while riding a scooter in northern New Jersey has pleaded not guilty.
Twenty-one-year-old Jeffrey Ellerbee is the second young man charged with first-degree murder and weapons offenses in the death of Genesis Rincon. He entered his plea in Paterson Tuesday.
Rincon had left a family gathering to go to a nearby store with another girl and a boy, but the store was closed so the children headed back to the event, authorities said. They were taking turns riding the scooter and were about a block away from the gathering when multiple shots rang out.
She was kept on life support for several days until her organs were donated.
The shooting left neighbors devastated.
“It’s not good when you’re not safe to come outside your own door and play around in the street. A kid can’t be a kid no more. That’s sad,” Clint Reid said.
Jhymiere Moore, 19, of Paterson, turned himself in and was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree possession of a weapon and second-degree unlawful possession in the slaying of Genesis Rincon, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes announced last week.
Moore has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney said that he was nowhere near the scene of the shooting.
“My client had absolutely no involvement in that shooting. My client was not anywhere related to that shooting. My client has no knowledge of who actually committed this horrific incident,” Harley Breite told reporters after the hearing. “Somewhere, there is someone who shot that girl, but that person is not my client.”
Breite said his client turned himself in because he heard through others that he was a target of the investigation.
“Rather than make it appear that he had some culpability or was in some way responsible for this, he took it upon himself to say, ‘I am not guilty, I am not responsible for that tragedy, and I want to be an active member in this criminal justice system. I’m not going to become a second victim in this tragedy,”’ Breite said.
He said no gun was ever found on Moore’s person.
“My understanding is that there’s no gun. There was no gun found on my client,” Breite said.
Breite said he believes his client is being used as a “scapegoat.”
If convicted, Moore faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
A third man, 19-year-old Marshae Anthony, is charged with weapons offenses.
Genesis’ murder outraged the community.
“I just don’t understand it. I do not understand it. I don’t get it,” said Paterson resident Beverly Harden. “Why is there so many killings in the city of Paterson?”
Prosecutors have said Rincon was not the intended target.
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