On a Saturday afternoon in October three years ago, a hearing-impaired child named Malika, 12, was coloring outside on the concrete steps of her North Philadelphia home with friends when gunfire shattered their idyllic play.
Derron Smith, then 17, and Byron Holeman, then 18, who lived a few blocks away, burst toward the house with revolvers and fired at Malika's 19-year-old brother, Marcus, who was on the sidewalk near the girls.
When the shots rang out, "the other kids ran in the house," Assistant District Attorney Leon Goodman said yesterday after Smith's sentencing in Common Pleas Court. "She [Malika] did not because she was hearing-impaired.
"Malika continues to color in her book," he said.
Amid the spray of gunfire, as Marcus tried to signal to his sister to get in the house, Smith fired a bullet through Malika's left leg, hitting her above the knee, Goodman said. Meanwhile, Holeman hit Marcus once in the chest and once in the pelvic area.
Marcus and Malika survived.
The Daily News is printing only the victims' first names at the request of authorities. After the shooting, the family was moved from their home on 19th Street near York as part of the district attorney's office's witness-relocation program.
Yesterday, Common Pleas Judge Joseph Dych had harsh words and a harsh sentence for Smith, now 20.
"I have heard no indication of any acceptance of responsibility," Dych told Smith, who showed no remorse and who chose not to speak in court. "The look on your face tells me, frankly, you have a serious problem, and you are not someone we want to see again on the streets of Philadelphia."
The judge called the shooting a "particularly heinous crime" because it involved children. He sentenced Smith to 20 to 40 years in prison on attempted-murder, aggravated-assault, criminal-conspiracy and weapons charges.
Smith, of Opal Street near York, was convicted in a January jury trial. A previous jury last year had deadlocked.
Holeman, of 18th Street near York, had pleaded guilty in July 2005 to aggravated-assault, conspiracy and weapons offenses. He received 10 to 20 years in prison in a negotiated plea deal.
Malika, Marcus and their mother, Lorrane, were not in court yesterday for Smith's sentencing.
The mother said afterward through Goodman that the family did not wish to speak about the shooting because it would only "cause the children to relive that pain."
Goodman said that a day or so before the shooting, Marcus' younger brother and Smith's younger cousin, both about 10 or 11 years old, had gotten into some sort of street fistfight over a "petty argument."
Then, on the day of the shooting, Smith and Holeman had a "verbal altercation" with Marcus over the younger boys' fistfight. A half hour later, they went to settle the argument with gunfire, Goodman said.
At both of Smith's jury trials, a brave Malika testified with the assistance of an American Sign Language translator. But she needed no help identifying her shooter.