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N.Y.C. Teen Used Dying Breaths to Name Man Who Allegedly Killed Her for Rebuffing His Advances

Steve Helling

As 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius lay dying from three gunshot wounds in May 2016, a patrol cop administered first aid — and asked her questions about who had attacked her.

In New York City’s Brooklyn Superior Court on Monday, the officer testified that Shemel used her dying breaths to name 25-year-old Taariq Stephens as her alleged killer. Stephens is on trial on second-degree murder and weapons charges.

Daly testified that Shemel drifted in and out of consciousness while they waited for an ambulance. He told jurors that, during one period of lucidity, the teen told detectives that Stephens allegedly wanted to be her boyfriend but she wasn’t interested.

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Taariq Stephens

Stephens and Shemel had allegedly met at a child care center a week before the killing, on May 31, 2016, and they exchanged phone numbers.

Shemel was babysitting her 3-year-old cousin at a Brooklyn apartment at the time of the shooting. “There was a 3-year-old male child, and he was covered in blood crying next to the victim,” Sgt. Ryan Habermehl testified. “It took about 20 minutes for EMS to arrive.”

The ambulance arrived at 6:55 p.m. and took the teen to Kings County Hospital, where she died about an hour later.

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Stephens’ attorney, Jay Cohen, maintains that his client is not guilty of the charges against him and will present his defense later this week. He did not return PEOPLE’s calls for comment.

If he’s convicted, Stephens faces 25 years to life in prison. The trial is expected to last into next week.