CHESTER The judge sat there on the bench and admitted plainly, I have no answer to the guns and violence he sees each day and the seemingly endless line of young men who appear in his courtroom after using guns and violence.
Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith did have one answer that matters most, though, for gun-toting criminals: prison.
This time, it was 27 years for a plea of guilty to manslaughter for a man who has seen little else in his adult life but jail cells and convictions for drugs and violence.
Keith Keener committed a crime of firing into a crowd outside a Chester nightclub. It is fortunate that others were not killed as Keener grabbed a gun he had hidden and just started shooting into a wall of people. By taking a gun to the club and hiding the gun, that tells me this was premeditated, and you planned to use that gun, Goldsmith told Keener. He then paused and gave the reason for carrying a gun to a nightclub: To shoot somebody.
Keener, 24 a felon since 18 who was kicked out of school at 15 shot Antonio Jack Price, 24, twice outside the Studio 72 nightclub. In the course of an hour in Chester County, it doesnt get any worse than this, prosecutor Doug Barfield said in court Monday about that night and early morning Sept. 20, 2010.
The melee started, Barfield said, with arguments between two groups of young men inside Studio 72 after a motorcycle and car show. They allegedly had sneaked guns in using women who werent searched as thoroughly.
People began arguing and fighting inside. Many, including Keener, were tossed out, and three people were shot. The mayhem then moved outside, where Keener grabbed the gun he had brought and fired into a crowd. Minutes later, another man was killed by bullets outside the hospital emergency room where the victims of the first shooting had been taken.
The victims sister, Danielle Jackson, was just as plain-spoken as the prosecutor, saying, As a citizen of this county, I dont feel safe. For someone to pick up a gun and kill somebody, then for someone to go to the hospital and kill, murder, it is unheard of.
Keener faced a murder charge, but accepted a plea deal of a manslaughter charge. Murder carries 30 years to life. Manslaughter carries up to 30 years.
Family claimed Keener out at 2 a.m. with a gun after past convictions for drugs and mayhem was in the wrong place at the wrong time and fell in with the wrong crowd.
Barfield disagreed. Keener is the wrong crowd, he told the judge.
The others awaiting trial from the shootings are:
• Townsel Romeo Rambert, charged with three counts of attempted murder, three counts of possession of a firearm during a violent crime, and unlawful possession of a pistol. Rambert allegedly shot the three people inside the nightclub.
• William Graham, charged with murder in the shooting death of Derek Chalk outside the hospitals emergency room.
• Quinton Cortez Q-Baby Howze, charged with accessory after the fact of murder in Chalks death.
• Cedric Shunta Owens, charged with possession of a stolen pistol in connection with a weapon recovered at a vehicle at the hospital.
• Lamont Dupree Howze, charged with withholding information during the investigation.