Everyone who knew Antwanisha Morgan was overjoyed that she was going to break the cycle of single motherhood, drugs and gang membership that most young people from San Francisco’s tough Bayview District fall into. The 17-year old had been actively researching colleges and was planning a trip to visit historically black colleges in the South. She’d already been accepted to four colleges, including Oklahoma State and California State University East Bay. She was active in her church, a community volunteer and forensics and criminal justice junkie who planned to pursue that interest into a college education and ultimately her career.
The 5’1” dynamo known as “Nisha” was raising money for the bus tour by producing and acting in a play at the Bayview Opera House—the play was about teen issues. She was also on the Praise dance team, attended Bible study and was the anchor for South San Francisco High's TV morning announcements.
That all ended on the mean streets of SF on March 16, 2007, when Nisha was killed by a bullet wound to the chest, an innocent victim of that city’s uncontrolled gang violence. She was shot outside a Bayview community youth center at Third Street and Quesada Avenue, a supposed safe place where the teen was a popular volunteer, helping younger kids with their homework.
Nisha’s mom Malika Crosby stopped by the center at about 7:40 p.m. to pick her children up after finishing her shift as a clerk at SF General Hospital’s x-ray department. She noticed her kids were still having fun with friends and after sharing a slice of pizza, Crosby told Nisha she’d be right back after running some quick errands. While putting fuel in her car at a gas station on Third Street, Crosby heard the siren of the ambulance and police responding to her daughter’s shooting, at about 8:10 p.m. Her son then phoned her, yelling and screaming.
Malika Crosby got to the scene of the shooting before the ambulance, and saw her daughter lying on the sidewalk. Crosby crumpled to the sidewalk at the sight of her dying daughter.
Nisha’s killers simply drove up to the group of teens, one youth getting out of the car and opening fire, another remaining in the car and yelling “You see how we do!” Two of Nisha’s friends were wounded; one boy, thought to have been the main target, was hit in the hip. Another possible target had left the group of kids just moments before.
Four gang members were “ruled guilty” of Nisha Morgan’s murder on January 16.
“Ruled guilty” is something that happens in juvenile court. Consequently, the four will serve time in the California Youth Authority (CYA) until the age of 25.
According to the SF Chronicle:
Prosecutors said they had opted against trying any of the four defendants in adult court—where convictions could have sent them to prison for 25 years to life—because of the need to keep all the defendants together to avoid having one pass the blame to another in separate trials.Back in March and into April 2007, several people were arrested. Four boys, aged 14, 15, 16 and 17 years (later revealed to be Eddie Robinson and Derrick Beauregard, respectively) were arrested. Kamisha Gray, a 22-year old woman who was believed to have been driving the car, was not charged. Robinson and Beauregard are both now 18.
In adult court, they said, the cases would be separated because of the rules of evidence that bar juries from hearing statements by one defendant against another.
The SF District Attorney’s office, lead by Kamala Harris (who is notorious for undercharging or not charging at all—how did Kamisha Gray escape any sort of prosecution?) elected to charge all as juveniles, claiming that the rules of evidence in juvenile court made it easier to win convictions!
Prosecutors stated that the four boys were members of a Portrero Hill gang and were on the prowl for a bit of retaliation against Bayview kids after a pissing match at a talent show dance contest two weeks prior to Nisha’s muder.
Defense attorneys said the four boys were just unlucky to have been at the scene at the time of the shooting and were innocent.
Unlike so many gang-related incidents that go to trial, there were eyewitnesses unafraid to come forward and testify. One of those witnesses, when asked why she chose to take the stand and possibly endanger her life, replied, “Because I want this to come to an end.”
Too bad more witnesses didn’t come forward to make a decent prosecutable case in adult court.
Robinson was found by Judge Lillian Sing to have been the shooter. After he gunned down Nisha in 2007, he was arrested and convicted as an adult in Arkansas for aggravated robbery. He’s been sentenced to 10 years in Arkansas, and he will likely serve that sentence first.
Dear readers, do the math. Eddie Robinson isn’t going to do a day in a California prison for Nisha’s murder. If Arkansas makes him serve every single day of his 10-year sentence, he will be too old to serve time in the CYA.
Nisha’s family is far more understanding of the DA’s decision to try this case in juvenile court, and they are far more forgiving than I would be. Nisha’s great-aunt Juanita Miles, said, "This is all we wanted from day one, justice for Antwanisha, not street vengeance. The bottom line is, no matter how much time they got, this won't bring Antwanisha back."
God bless Nisha’s family for not being as angry as I think most of us would be.
The “criminal justice” system in SF is a joke. The DA was elected into office promising to never use the death penalty ever. Even when SF police officer Isaac Espinoza was killed in the line of duty she did not seek the death penalty against the killer. I have written about the Bologna family murder and how the DA declined to prosecute the suspected gunman, Edwin Ramos, for a concealed weapon incident a couple of months before he gunned down ½ of a family in the Excelsior district. Recall that Ramos, an illegal alien and known gang member, had been arrested early in 2008, when during a routine traffic stop, a passenger dropped a gun (that was later linked to a fresh murder) from a car driven by Ramos. The DA declined to prosecute because she felt Ramos had no way of knowing one of his passengers was in possession of a gun.
Imagine that, a car full of gang members without a gun? Oh please!
San Francisco, like most any U.S. city, is also suffering a budget crisis. Never mind that there are over 9000 SF city and county employees earning more than $100K a year. Last year, in its infinite wisdom, the SF Board of Supervisors (better known as the Board of Stupes) passed an ordinance limiting overtime pay for city employees to 624 hours. That includes homicide detectives.
Four of the 20 detectives have been told they cannot take on new cases, as they have nearly used all of their overtime through the fiscal year ending June 30. (I will be writing a blog entry about this in the next few days.)
When will the citizens of San Francisco learn to not vote in a soft-on-crime DA? Harris, who appears to be a fine example of affirmative action run amuck (she is touted as SF’s first female District Attorney, the first African American elected as District Attorney in California, and the first Indian American elected to the position in the United States). She ran unopposed for re-election in 2007.
While she is credited with increasing the SF DA’s office conviction rate, she also selectively prosecutes those cases. Witness Nisha Morgan’s case. It is a prime example of under-prosecution if there ever was.
And Californians, heads up. Kamala Harris plans to run for Attorney General of our fine state.
We will never know how much of a difference Antwanisha Morgan would have made in this world. Thanks to SF’s reputation as easy on crime, there is little deterrent to wanna-be gangsta thugs making a reputation for themselves by gunning down gifted, innocent young people like Nisha Morgan.
What will it take for us to make it stop? How many good, innocent kids have to die?
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