Destiny Brown sobbed through her apology to the family of the man she killed.
During her sentencing hearing Thursday, in sometimes indecipherable words, she begged for forgiveness, said she was not a bad person and that God is merciful.
"I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me as I'm trying to forgive myself," she said. "My mother didn't raise a killer, and I didn't plan to be one."
But the man who prosecuted her for the shooting death of 19-year-old Marshawn Ptomey presented a different picture of the 18-year-old woman.
"Actions speak louder than words," Assistant District Attorney Patrick Schulte said. "This defendant's actions show she's a racist, drug-dealing killer."
He was referring to testimony from the young woman's decertification hearing, in which there was testimony that in her recorded phone calls from the county jail she laughed about her crime with friends and referred to her own attorney with repeated racial epithets.
She also admitted to dealing heroin.
Brown pleaded guilty in June to voluntary manslaughter. On Thursday, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning sentenced her to five to 10 years in prison to be followed by 10 years probation.
On May 24, 2012, Brown was walking with her friend, Tyler Mayhugh, in McKees Rocks when Mr. Mayhugh got into a confrontation with Ptomey.
While the two men struggled, Brown pulled a .32-caliber revolver from her purse and fired two shots.
Ptomey was struck in the head and died three days later at Allegheny General Hospital.
Brown and Mr. Mayhugh fled to her mother's home, where the young woman changed and threw away the clothes she had been wearing. She later threw the gun in the river.
A witness, however, was able to identify her, and Brown was picked up by police and ultimately confessed.
Brown's attorney, Milton Raiford, attempted to have the case moved to juvenile court because Brown was 17 at the time of the crime, but Judge Manning denied the request.
Mr. Raiford told the court that his client had a difficult life, following her father's suicide while she was in elementary school. The young woman dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and did not have the love and support she needed, the attorney said.
Alice Applegate, a forensic psychologist, testified at sentencing that Brown is in need of continuing psychotherapy while in prison.
"She needs to address the trauma she's been through and work through the guilt she has from this," Ms. Applegate said.
She also said Brown has no sense of self. "Destiny doesn't know who she is anymore."
But Mr. Schulte said Ptomey didn't have the same chance.
"The life narrative of Marshawn Ptomey will never be written," he said. "The defendant took that from him."
The prosecutor told Judge Manning the victim's mother could not speak, but, "The sadness I see in that woman's eyes is a sadness I've never seen before."
Ptomey's sister, Sonya Smith, told Judge Manning that even 16 months later, her brother's death doesn't seem real.
"It seems like a dream that I'm going to wake up from eventually," she said.
For their mother, she continued, "She continues to see the casket going into the ground."
Ptomey's father, Perry Tillman, told Judge Manning he visits his son's gravesite every Sunday.
"To me, he's still here with me," the man said.
Even though she misses her brother, Kendra Hobdy told Judge Manning she prays for Brown.
"I wish the best for her, and I wish the best for my family, too."
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620. Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published September 12, 2013 3:45 PM