Crown Heights

Brooklyn man sentenced to more than 17 years in drunken 2016 J’Ouvert killing

May 17, 2019 Noah Goldberg
Reginald Moise (right) listens as a family member of Tiarah Poyau (left) speaks at his sentencing. Eagle photo by Noah Goldberg.
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The Brooklyn man convicted of killing a 22-year-old St. Johns University student at the Crown Heights J’Ouvert festival in 2016 was sentenced to 17 1/3 years in prison Friday, after the victim’s family spoke tearfully about their loss.

Reginald Moise shot Tiarah Poyau in the head in the early morning hours of Sept. 5, 2016, before the annual West Indian Day Parade. Moise was intoxicated at the time, and maintained to police that he had no recollection of the shooting. He was found not guilty on the highest charges of murder and manslaughter, but was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, as well as criminal possession of a weapon in April.

“This is the most tragic case I’ve ever come across,” said Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo before sentencing Moise. “In one selfish act of idiocy you destroyed the incredibly bright future of a promising young woman.”

Poyau was not the only shooting victim at 2016’s J’Ouvert festival. A 17-year-old named Tyreke Borel was shot and killed the same night, and four others were injured in other shootings. In 2015, Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was killed by a stray bullet during the festival.

“J’Ouvert is a festival that is supposed to be about peace and love and [Moise] turned it into a nightmare,” said Vertina Brown, Poyau’s mother.

Tiarah Poyau was in her last year of a five-year program at St. John’s college, where she was studying to be an accountant. “She will never spend one day enjoying the life that she worked so hard for,” Brown said.

Poyau’s aunt spoke about seeing her niece in the hospital. “I sort of brushed her hair away from her forehead, and that’s when I saw a small little bullet hole in her temple. I have lost count of how many times I have relived that image,” Poyau’s aunt said.

Moise listened as the family members spoke, smiling at one point and whispering to his lawyer. Immediately before his sentencing, Moise apologized to the family members in attendance for the pain he caused. “I’m sorry… for your loss and what y’all going through,” Moise said, turning to face the family members sitting in the courtroom.

Brown said after the sentencing that the apology did not feel sincere.

“This defendant fired four shots during what was a joyous cultural celebration, tragically killing Tiarah Poyau, a completely innocent bystander with a promising life ahead of her,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a statement.

“It is a miracle that no one else was struck. Today’s sentence delivered a measure of justice for Tiarah’s heartbroken mother, family and many friends – and a clear message that gun violence will not be tolerated at J’Ouvert.”



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