Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Teenager sentenced in Metro gang shooting

Drug use, violent past cited at trial

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An 18-year-old man originally from Gaithersburg was sentenced to serve 18 years in jail for directing his friend to shoot two men in a gang-related retaliation at the Shady Grove Metro station last year.

Before sentencing Phillip Anthony Kang to 30 years, with all but 18 suspended, in connection with the nonfatal shooting, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Marielsa Bernard expressed regret that Kang seemingly had not learned anything from the extensive time he had spent in the county’s juvenile justice system.

‘‘It is painful for me to see you here today,” Bernard, who presided over several of Kang’s juvenile cases, said at the July 1 sentencing. ‘‘... I do feel like I’ve watched you grow up, and I do feel like you’ve had opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, but there comes a point where you have to accept the consequences of the choices you make.”

Kang was indicted on two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, use of a handgun in commission of a felony or crime of violence, and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault on Nov. 30 for the shooting, which police said was in retaliation for a spate of gang-related violence in Gaithersburg that occurred within a seven-day period earlier that month.

He pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder May 29, according to an online state court records database. The other charges were dropped.

‘‘I understand my deep involvement and how it came about, but to me my biggest mistake was the company I was keeping,” Kang said at the sentencing.

According to police, Kang, then 17, and John Hollis Reynolds of Gaithersburg were arguing with two men outside the Metro station around 9 p.m. Nov. 12 when Kang told Reynolds to shoot them. Reynolds shot the 18-year-old man in the hand and ear and the 15-year-old boy in the leg, according to police. Then Kang and Reynolds fled on a Ride On bus.

Reynolds, 18, was indicted on the same counts as Kang and pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder and the gun charge on March 21, according to the database. Sentencing has not been scheduled.

Both Kang and Reynolds were under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and ecstasy during the shooting, and Reynolds was also possibly on PCP, according to Kang’s Rockville-based attorney, David Felsen. Kang was affiliated with a local faction of the Bloods and had recently brought Reynolds into the gang, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Wennar.

Felsen requested leniency for Kang due to psychiatric issues and the fact that he was not the one who fired the gun. Bernard countered that Kang had not taken advantage of help offered by the judicial system and his family during his previous brushes with the law, which included breaking out of a juvenile detention center with Reynolds and stealing a car in 2006.

‘‘There were a lot of people who believed in you, myself included,” Bernard said. ‘‘... They believed in you because you had and still have potential. But you’re throwing it all away.”