East Flatbush

Terrified teen testifies at friend’s murder trial

December 11, 2017 By Paul Frangipane Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Taariq Stephens is on trial at Brooklyn Supreme Court for the 2016 murder of Shemel Mercurius. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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The best friend of a 16-year-old girl who was gunned down inside her East Flatbush apartment while babysitting her baby cousin, confronted trial questioning with silence and was reluctant to point out the alleged killer in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Monday.

Eighteen-year-old Louna Junien went to her friend Shemel Mercurius’ apartment at 1406 Brooklyn Ave. on May 31, 2016 to work on homework. A man followed her to the sixth-floor door and blasted Mercurius with a sub-machine gun to death before he fled.

Jurors raised their eyebrows and looked down as Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal questioned the mumbling Junien.

“I want to talk to you about the day Shemel was killed,” Carvajal told Junien, who swiveled back and forth in her chair.

“Somebody followed me,” Junien said with a low voice. “She got shot.”

“Can you tell everybody if you see the person that shot Shemel?” Carvajal asked.

Junien was silent.

“It’s OK if you’re scared,” the prosecutor said.

“He’s over there,” Junien said while quickly pointing her finger to Taariq Stephens.

When asked what the defendant looked like, Junien responded, “I’m scared,” eventually identifying Stephens, 26, with the help of Carvajal’s pointing finger.

Defense attorney Jay Cohen raised issue with the lineup process that was allegedly instigated by a performing detective.

Cohen alleged that after Junien didn’t identify the first four persons in the lineup, the detective told her the fifth person, Stephens, was the one who shot Mercurius.

While Junien said it was true, Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling said the jury would decide whether to believe the girl or not.

According to testimony, Mercurius, a Guyana native, had met Stephens about a week before the shooting that left her with bullet wounds in both arms and her right chest.

When responding Officer Kyle Daly found Mercurius, she was bleeding on top of a toy car, leaning up against her wall.

Daly said the ambulance took about 20 minutes to arrive at the scene while he was trying to keep the teen alive on her bloodied apartment floor.

The officer admitted it was a “very long time” for the ambulance to arrive.

Before she was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, Daly testified that Mercurius gave Stephen’s first name and said he wanted to date her, but she didn’t want to.

Stephens allegedly turned himself in on June 2, 2016 and faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder charges.

He is currently being held without bail to return to trial on Tuesday.


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