Family, Activists Say Race Led To Light Sentence In Teen’s Shooting Death – CBS Pittsburgh

March 11, 2022 by No Comments

MCKEESPORT, Pa. (KDKA) – A Mon Valley group is pushing for a tougher punishment for a teenager who they say intentionally shot and killed his friend.

The family of Dontae McKenith and Take Action Mon Valley believe 16-year-old Phillip Payne is getting off easy for shooting and killing 18-year-old Dontae McKenith.

“It’s not right that my family has to harbor the pain of not having a sibling or my mom not having a son,” said Dontae’s sister.

In front of the Mckeesport police station, the family and advocates of Dontae McKenith gathered to call for transparency and a tougher judgment towards his killer.

(Photo: KDKA)

“Every day I get up I have to be reminded that my son is never coming back and his life is only worth two to four years by someone who committed an act against him,” said Marie McBride, Dontae’s mother.

READ MORE: Police: 16-Year-Old Arrested In Shooting Death Of 18-Year-Old In McKeesport

Back in July of 2021, police say McKenith and his friend Phillip Payne were handling a gun when Payne pointed it at McKenith and shot him. Payne ran off but later turned himself in and was charged with criminal homicide.

He was in jail but now sits at home on house arrest.

McBride says she feels her son’s case is overlooked because of race and age and reached out to Take Action Mon Valley for help.

“We all know that if Phillip was Black, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Fawn Walker-Montgomery. “There are Black and brown people in jail for way less: for stealing book bags, for not being able to pay fines.”

The McKenith family said Payne is due in court this coming Monday and has a plea deal lined up that could sentence him to less than three years in jail, which they believe isn’t enough for a life taken too soon.

“His life matters. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a friend and a loved one and his life matters. It does not come down to two to four years,” said Fawn Walker-Montgomery.



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