The family of Emmanuel Barnett sat quietly and looked on with broken hearts Friday as the Bronx man who had admitted to stealing their loved one’s life away heard his punishment in a Mineola court.
A judge sentenced Lij Tyshaun Phillips, 23, to 23 years in prison for killing Barnett, a college student, during a Garden City lounge shooting on March 16, 2014.
Nassau Assistant District Attorney Ania Pulaski read a statement from the Barnett family, who were too emotional to speak in court.
“No combination of words used today could come close to representing the pain and heartache our family has endured from this loss,” Pulaski said, reading the statement before State Supreme Court Justice William Donnino.
Words couldn’t “erase tears, or fill voids,” the prosecutor said. Words also couldn’t give Barnett’s family the opportunity to “dance at his wedding” or hold his future children, Pulaski added from their statement.
The victim had turned 21 days before the shooting. He was about to earn an associate degree in electrical engineering from Queensborough Community College, according to relatives.
Barnett grew up in the Cambria Heights section of Queens, worked retail jobs while going to school, and liked “cars especially,” his father, Eric Barnett, 56, said after court.
Phillips’ attorney, Jeffrey Groder, told the judge his client had accepted responsibility by pleading guilty.
Authorities said Phillips shot into a crowd at the Mint lounge after a fight among patrons. Barnett was shot in the head and another victim suffered a leg wound, according to authorities.
Police testimony previously indicated two witnesses had identified Phillips as the shooter. A witness also showed police photos from that night of people throwing up gang-style “hand signs,” testimony showed.
Groder has declined to comment about whether his client has admitted to any gang ties.
Phillips chose not to speak Friday before Donnino imposed the sentence for manslaughter and assault.
“Words are really insufficient comfort for the loss,” the judge told the Barnett family. “Try to think about the life that was lived.”