The anguish of a grieving mother was felt Wednesday at a courthouse in Brockton, Massachusetts, where she faced the couple charged in her son's killing.
Prosecutors said Wednesday at the Plymouth County Superior Court that 24-year-old Brima Koroma was a solar panel salesman, going door to door in Brockton on March 15, when he was shot and killed.
Authorities have charged 33-year-old Branden C. Fernandes of Brockton with murder; 25-year-old Destiny A. Fontes Silie of Warwick, Rhode Island, is charged with being an accessory after the fact. They were arraigned Wednesday.
Assistant district attorneys processing the case detailed the events leading up to the shooting. They said Koroma knocked on the door of Fernandes' home on Carrie Ann Drive and asked to speak to a homeowner. A family member answered and pointed to Fernandes, who was working on a vehicle across the street.
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Witnesses told detectives they heard Fernandes yelling at Koroma, threatening to kill him and saying, "This is my turf, bro, this is my hood."
Koroma eventually walked away toward East Street. Fernandes was seen getting into a vehicle and following Koroma up the street, prosecutors said.
A witness said that when the defendant exited his vehicle and approached the victim for the last time, he had a gun in hand. The victim put his arms up and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," before he was shot.
Another witness told police Koroma was holding his cellphone out in front of him, apparently recording the defendant as he kept coming at him, and that after the shooting, the defendant bent over by the victim and took the phone from him.
"I think it goes to show, sometimes, the extent with which individuals understand the importance of phones and casings and things such as that. Evidence that was removed from the scene, but that will all be part of the case," said Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz. "Putting the case together, I think [the police] have done a good job. We'll continue to go forward until it comes to its just conclusion."
Emergency responders found the victim suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to Brockton Hospital, where he died from his injuries. Fernandes and Fontes-Silie were arrested in Virginia the day after the shooting.
"They kill my son for nothing. My son was a good boy. I raised him well and he did what I teach him to do, to help people and walk away from fights, that's what he did," said his mother, Isata Koroma Shriff. "He run after my son and shoot him in the chest."
Leaving the courthouse in tears, she prayed on the entrance steps with arms stretched up toward the sky, "God, fight for our son! God, fight for our son!"
More than a dozen relatives and members of their church joined her at the courthouse in disbelief.
"He was a friendly boy, a friendly guy, have love for his younger siblings, he never argued with anybody," said Jeffrey Brima Koroma, the victim's father. "Justice will prevail. We are just asking for justice."
"He was at work, he was doing his job, walking from one place to another asking people to do solar, and now they argued, and he said he is sorry, put his hands up, and he still shot him," said Fatmata Conteh, the victim's aunt. "God will surely give him what’s coming to him."
Koroma's family shared pictures with NBC10 Boston that gave a glimpse into his life as an athlete, focused on fitness, and as a family man.
"He's a kind, friendly, honest young man who is out there doing what a 25-year-old man should be doing. He is working, minding his business, trying to make a living, and I think it's very much unfair for anyone to think that he doesn't deserve to live," said Jeremiah Kargbo a youth pastor.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty to their charges and are being held without bail. The next hearing is scheduled for June 16.