Alison Williams, Marcel Bullard
D'Andre Monroe, Marschell Brumfield
SACRAMENTO, CA - Twelve suspects charged in connection with the shooting death of 15-year-old Aliyah Smith were arraigned in a Sacramento court Thursday.
Eight suspects are juveniles, but prosecutors have decided to charge them as adults.
They're accused of a drive-by shooting that claimed the life of Smith on January 3.
Sacramento police say six girls were at a party when one of them got in a fight with Smith. Later that night, one of the girls called six more friends and it's believed they went to a home where Smith was staying and shot inside.
When the bullets stopped flying, Smith, a high school sophomore, lay dead.
Smith's mother Catrina Kilgore remembered her daughter as a happy-go-lucky child.
"She liked basketball, baseball and cheerleading. She hadn't made it on the cheerleading squad yet, but she knew she was going to do it," Kilgore said.
She said the shooting came as a surprise because Smith was looking forward to going to college.
"I'm never going to see my daughter again. She's never going to graduate. I'm never going to have grandkids," Kilgore cried. "I miss her and I love her. This is just sad."
Kilgore said she was also shocked when police called her earlier this week to say they had made arrests in connection with the shooting that occured eight months ago. Among the suspects, Alison Williams, 18; Marcel Bullard, 18; D'Andre Monroe, 18, Marschell Brumfield, 19; three 17-year-olds, two 16-year-olds and three 15-year-olds.
Sacramento Police Sgt. Norm Leong admitted cops had a hard time finding them.
"People thought that this would be an easy one to solve," Leong said. "When you're not receiving cooperation from the people that were there, it becomes difficult. But detectives were able to overcome that and did extensive investigation."
The suspects were brought to court to groups. Six juvenile girls had to squeeze into the small cage where prisoners are arraigned.
Many started crying when they heard the judge say murder charges against them carry special circumstances because a gun was used during a drive-by shooting. For adults, special circumstances mean if they're found guilty, they could face life in prison or be sentenced to death.
It was even tougher for Kilgore to hear the charges against them. She said she's conflicted between worrying about the suspects and wanting justice.
"It's not something I'm going to be doing -- sitting around dreaming, hoping and wishing bad things on the kids. I don't because they're kids," Kilgore said. "But what can I say? I lost my daughter."
By Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org