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Mother of 2 gets 35 years for 1999 Jamaica murder

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A Brooklyn woman convicted last year of murdering her half-brother’s fiancée was sentenced last week to 35 years to life in prison after apologizing to the court and the victim’s family.

Nicki Havner, 27, was convicted Nov. 21, 2001, of first-degree murder and arson for smothering Tracie Harrison, 29, with a pillow during an Oct. 23, 1999 robbery at Harrison’s home in Jamaica. She followed the murder by trying to destroy evidence in the house and a van by setting both on fire.

Havner could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole, but State Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter said her clean record before the murder and reputation as a “model inmate” in jail swayed him toward a more lenient sentence.

Havner’s two small children and other family members attended her sentencing at State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens. Before her sentence was read, Havner spoke to Harrison’s mother and grandmother, who were present in court for the duration of the 10-day trial.

“I’m sorry for the way things happened,” Havner said, “My intention was never to harm her in any way — my intention was to get my belongings back.

“I ask the court to have mercy,” Havner said to the judge, “and accept my apology.”

Havner and Harrison were once close friends and roommates, but in September 1999, Havner accused Harrison and her own half-brother, Ira Richardson, Harrison’s fiancé, of robbing her Brooklyn apartment.

Police arrested Harrison and Richardson after the Brooklyn robbery. As a result of that arrest, Richardson was in jail at the time of Harrison’s murder.

In a video statement given to authorities the day after the murder and shown to the jury during her trial, Havner said she and her five accomplices broke into Harrison’s house so she could “get her stuff back.”

Havner’s ex-boyfriend, Ivory “Joe” Sanders, 31, who lived with her in Brooklyn, assisted in the robbery. He testified that he saw Havner smother Harrison with a pillow and that she told him she was “finishing the job.”

Sanders pleaded guilty to burglary charges in November 2000 and was expected to receive a 15-year prison sentence, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Another man involved in the robbery, Charles Robertson, 29, of Brooklyn pleaded guilty to burglary in February 2001 and was expected to be given a sentence of 10 years in prison, Brown said.

The other men accused of helping Havner with the robbery are all from Brooklyn, including Havner’s neighbor, Willis Moore, 40, Kevin Brooks, 31, and Reginald Thompson, 34. They were awaiting trial.

After Havner killed Harrison, she and the other men allegedly unloaded the van full of stolen property at a relative’s house and set the van on fire a few blocks away, Brown said.

They then returned to the victim’s house, where Havner and Sanders allegedly poured kerosene on the first and second floors and set the home on fire, Brown said.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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