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Teen who fired fatal shot in ‘disrespect’ killing is sentenced

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

Dedrick McKenzie, the Charlotte teen who shot and killed another youth over an act of apparent disrespect last year, was sentenced Thursday to more than 13 years in prison.

McKenzie, who turned 17 in jail, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He’ll spend up to 17 years in prison after beating, pistol-whipping and shooting Kydaryune “K.C.” Curry, a popular student at Charlotte United Christian Academy.

The killing of the charismatic teenager – and its motive – shocked the city a year ago.

McKenzie, in chains and wearing a green jail uniform for juvenile inmates, was the fourth teen to plead guilty in the case. His plea came four days short of the anniversary of Curry’s death. A fifth suspect has pleaded not guilty and has a pending court date.

McKenzie remained mostly silent as Judge Richard Boner sentenced him, only uttering an occasional, “Yes, sir.”

He said nothing as Curry’s mother, Benita Turner, addressed him and the courtroom while fighting back sobs.

“Dedrick, I forgive you for what you did to my son,” she said. “There’s nothing that I can say that can depict the void, the pain, the hurt (you’ve caused) for me and my family.”

Boner told McKenzie that he should use his prison time to rehabilitate.

“You’re 17 and you’re going to spend a good chunk of your life behind bars,” he said. “I hope you use that time to turn your life around, because someday you’re going to stand before the judge of all creation.”

Curry was a car enthusiast who hoped to study automotive technology after college and work on drag racers. But before that, he was going to be a groomsman in his mother’s wedding.

He never knew McKenzie or the other teens who killed him. The apparent act of disrespect was so trivial that he never mentioned it to his mother.

The day before he died, Curry drove his car to the home of a girl he liked. But she was outside talking to her ex-boyfriend, Jeremy Pate, said Assistant District Attorney Bill Bunting.

Curry cranked up his music, drowning out the conversation between Pate and the girl.

Incensed, Pate mobilized to fight Curry with McKenzie and three other friends the next day, investigators and Curry’s mother have said.

McKenzie brought his gun, which sat on Pate’s lap as he drove his Ford Explorer to Curry’s northeast Charlotte home.

Curry and a friend were outside, tinkering with his car.

For a few minutes, Pate and Curry fought each other, eventually tiring and clinging to each other. Then Pate’s friends jumped in. One shoved Curry to the ground and the others piled on, punching, kicking and stomping the teen.

The beating was so violent that one of the teens had to destroy a sweatshirt stained with Curry’s blood.

As the other teens walked back to the SUV, McKenzie retrieved the gun from the front seat.

He came back to Curry who was lying on the ground.

McKenzie pointed the gun, said “I don’t give a f***,” and fired, witnesses later told investigators.

Curry was shot four times – once in the head, twice in the chest and once in the back.

As the SUV sped off, McKenzie told the other teens in the car that “he wasn’t thinking,” said Bunting. Another teen threw his bloody shoes out the window.

Police rounded up the five suspects in the next two days.

McKenzie’s gun – the murder weapon – was found in his bedroom.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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