Father to man who shot, killed toddler: 'You're a punk'

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The father of an Inkster toddler shot dead execution-style last summer had strong words in court Tuesday for the men convicted of shooting his young daughter.

Raymone Jackson, seated, listens as Kenneth French gives a victim's statement to the court during Jackson's sentencing in the courtroom of Judge Ulysses Boykin at the Frank Murphy Hall Of Justice. French is the father of KaMiya Gross, who was shot in the head on July 1, 2014.

"You're a coward. You're a punk," Kenneth French, the father of Kamiya Gross, told Raymone Jackson, the man authorities said did the shooting on her father's porch.

French also had harsh words for Jackson's co-defendant, Rapheal Hearn, telling him to "do yourself a favor and kill yourself."

Jackson, 25, and Hearn, 30, will spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Kamiya and the wounding of French, who was shot about 10 times.

A 12-year-old relative of French, Chelsea Lancaster, was also shot and wounded July 1 at a public housing complex on Carlyle in Inkster. Kamiya was shot in the head.

The 2-year-old girl's murder stunned Metro Detroit.

Erica Gross, Kamiya's mother, also addressed the two men during their sentencing before Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin, telling both "you'll never know how I feel." She also called Hearn a coward and told Jackson he was not fit to be called a dad.

Jackson and Hearn, who are habitual offenders, apologized to Gross' family and to the other victims.

"None of this was supposed to happen," Jackson said.

Hearn said he "had no intention" of hurting little Kamiya, French or Chelsea. He also said his rights were violated during the trial. Hearn apologized to his own family before he was taken from the courtroom.

Gross, who was at work when she was notified of her young child's horrific death, said after the sentencing that Jackson and Hearn didn't appear to be remorseful and that she finds it hard to make sense of them as parents wanting to hurt someone else's child.

"I'll never get over this but it's a start ... for my daughter," Gross said. "For (Jackson and Hearn) to have kids of their own and to be part of something like this is terrible. I don't think they deserve to be called father."

Boykin's courtroom was crowded with family members of Kamiya on Tuesday as Boykin handed down the prison terms for Jackson, whom authorities have identified as the shooter, and Hearn, whom Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz said ordered the shootings.

Boykin said the shooting of Kamiya was "the most heinous crime I have seen in my 45 years in the legal profession."

Horowitz said Jackson carried out the shooting on behalf of Hearn who was angry at French for not protecting him from being shot at an after-hours club in Inkster.

"This case started because Mr. Hearn did not go to police when he was shot. He did not seek the help of law enforcement," Horowitz said Tuesday. "He decided to abide by the streets and because of that a small child lost her life and a 12-year-old will bear the psychological and physical scars of this shooting for the rest of her life."

During a court hearing in July just days after the shooting, French described in detail how he watched his young child get shot.

"His idea was to kill my baby to make me suffer," French said of Jackson. The 28-pound toddler was shot in the eye.

A Wayne County jury convicted Jackson and Hearn on all counts in the case March 5.

Jackson was also sentenced to 30-45 years in prison on a torture charge and 30-45 years on each of two counts of assault with intent to commit murder.

Hearn also received 30-45 years each for two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and a mandatory two-year felony firearms conviction. With the exception of the weapons offense, the other sentences will run concurrently.

Matt Evans, Hearn's lawyer, said his client has nothing to do with the shooting. Evans said his client's close relationship with Jackson, not evidence presented in court, is what led to his conviction. "It was a tragic, tragic series of events," Evans said. "He took no active part in planning or the execution of this horrific event."