Image courtesy NYPD
By Rich Bockmann

Two weeks after friends and family of Darryl Adams gathered outside the South Jamaica Houses on the first anniversary of his death, they packed a Queens courtroom Tuesday and watched as one of his killers was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

“I can’t believe I watched my son Darryl run for his life and die on film,” Shanta Merritt said as Sean Barnhill, 20, stood by stoically in court. “Sean, you stole my son Darryl from me and his family and for that I hope you rot in jail for the rest of your life.”

State Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin gave Barnhill 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in February to shooting Darryl Adams last March. Barnhill declined to speak at his sentencing.

Adams nearly escaped death in 2011 when he was leaving a barbecue with some friends. As his group was walking along the street shots rang out. Adams suffered a bullet wound, but his friend Terrell Fountain, 18, was killed.

In the early morning hours of March 2, 2012, NYPD surveillance video caught Adams running through the NYCHA houses, also known as the 40 Houses, as two young men later identified as Barnhill and his accomplice, 16-year-old Alexander Burgess, slowly stalked him.

The camera lost sight of Adams as he ran behind a building, but another view picked him up as he stumbled across a walkway and fell to the ground, his legs still kicking. A moment later the two young men walked by and Barnhill pulled out a gun and fired at Adams before causally walking away.

In a matter of seconds an undercover police car sped into frame and apprehended the two suspects.

In December, Brandt sentenced Burgess to 16 years in prison for his role in Adams’ death after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Burgess also received 12 years for an unrelated robbery during which prosecutors said he and an accomplice shot someone.

Adams’ friends and family gathered earlier this month at the spot where his life was cut short to release balloons and light candles in his memory.

As she spoke to Barnhill in court Tuesday, Merritt said nothing would ever bring her son back, but she wanted the killer to know the pain he had caused.

“I want you, Sean, to know I watched you kill my son Darryl and skip away like it was nothing to you,” she said. “For murdering Darryl you should be getting what you gave my son and that’s life.”

Merritt wept loudly as the judge read the sentence and clapped as Barnhill was led out of the courtroom. At that point he turned to Merritt and the rest of Adams’ family and winked before leaving the courtroom.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Related Stories
Court officers in Queens warn public that understaffing means state courts ‘ready to explode’
Court officers in Queens warn public that understaffing means state courts ‘ready to explode’
No Image
Tyrone Howard pleads not guilty in Officer Holder’s death

Skip to toolbar