Pair charged in athlete’s killing

A basketball court at the Queensbridge housing project was decorated with candles in memory of Tayshana Murphy following her funeral. Her suspected killers, Tyshawn Brokington (inset l.) and Robert Cartagena, were remanded in Manhattan Criminal Court last week. Photo by Christina Santucci, inset courtesy Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center
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The teen Queensbridge native who was shot in an apparent dispute between two rival Manhattan public housing projects was trying to avoid trouble when her accused shooters allegedly opened fire on her, prosecutors revealed last week when the pair appeared in court.

Robert Cartagena, 20, and Tyshawn “Ta Ta” Brockington, 21, both of the Manhattanville Houses in Harlem, were arraigned Oct. 5 in Manhattan Criminal Court after they were charged with the second-degree murder of Tyshanna “Chicken” Murphy, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

Murphy, 18, who moved with her family from Queensbridge to the Grant Houses years ago, was shot several times in the housing project Sept. 11 when Cartagena, Brockington and a third suspect, Terique Collins, 24, went in to “smoke someone,” according to court documents.

The trio allegedly approached the teen and her friends in a stairway inside the Grant Houses around 4 a.m. and she tried to get out of the situation by telling the suspects that she did not want trouble, but the suspected gunmen were already looking for blood, according to the criminal complaint.

“I don’t give a [expletive],” one of the men said before firing off three gunshots, according to the complaint.

Murphy was killed and the three fled the area, investigators said. Collins was arrested less than a week later and charged with weapons possession, the Manhattan DA’s office said.

Murphy attended the Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers and was part of the school’s varsity girls’ basketball team. Her skills on the court were highly touted among the city’s high school sports community and many top colleges were scouting her, according to her family.

Her popularity extended beyond the basketball courts, as members of both the Queensbridge and Grant houses said she was friendly and always brightened up their day. More than a thousand people attended her funeral at an Astoria funeral home Sept. 17 and called for an end to senseless violence.

The NYPD’s fugitive task force tracked down Cartagena and Brockington to Columbia, S.C, and on Sept. 21 they arrested the pair, according to prosecutors.

Their next court date is Oct. 18 and, if convicted on their murder charges, they face a maximum prison sentence of 25 years to life, according to the DA’s office.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 12:00 am, October 13, 2011
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