Teen Uses Final Breath To Identify Killer Who Couldn’t Take Rejection

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The teen was taking care of her 3-year-old cousin in 2016 when the murderer busted into the apartment, shooting her to death in front of the toddler.

A teen from Brooklyn, New York, was killed for persistently saying “no” to a man who kept pursuing her. But before she took her last breath, she did all in her power to get justice.

Shemel Mercurius, 16, was a junior at Edward R. Murrow High School when Taariq Stephens allegedly ended her life. As she waited for an ambulance before succumbing to her injuries, she told authorities all about then-25-year-old Stephens and his obsession with her.

During his trial on Monday, officers who responded to the murder scene testified that the dying teen used her last breath to tell them just who was behind the crime.

In May 2016, Mercurius was baby-sitting her 3-year-old cousin when Stephens broke into the apartment, killing her with a submachine gun. As officers arrived at the scene, they found the toddler “covered in blood crying next to the victim,” Police Sgt. Ryan Habermehl said.

“It took about 20 minutes for EMS to arrive," he added.

According to Officer Kyle Thomas Daly — who found Mercurius when she was still alive — the girl had been sitting on a toy car.

“I put on gloves, took her off the car and laid her down and began rendering aid ... she regained consciousness, gave me her name and date of birth,” he explained.

As they waited for medical help, Mercurius, who kept going in and out of consciousness, told the officer about Stephens and how he kept pursuing her — unsuccessfully. Unfortunately, the man just would not take no for an answer.

The brutal murder happened about a week after the two met at a day care center.

According to Lona Junien, a friend of Mercurius who was buzzed into the building the day she was baby-sitting her cousin, the attacker pushed her then said, “Don’t ever lie to me.”

“She was screaming; he took out the gun and shot her,” Junien added.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Stephens may serve 25 years to life in prison.

With so many cases of harassment and abuse surfacing, this particular case seems even more symbolic, showing just how dangerous it can be to reject unwanted advances

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Ralph Freso

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