WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - A Westchester County teenager is facing life in prison after being indicted on charges that he allegedly fatally stabbed another teenager after starting a fight with him over a cell phone at a Yonkers movie theater earlier this year.
According to Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr., 16-year-old Michael Pettiford has been indicted on charges of murder, manslaughter, robbery, and criminal possession of a weapon Monday in Westchester County Court.
At approximately 12:45 a.m. on April 15, police were dispatched to the Ridge Hill Movie Theater on Fitzgerald Street in Yonkers, where there were reports of a fight that ended when someone was stabbed at the conclusion of a movie.
Upon arrival, police located 19-year-old Yonkers resident Daij Asante Thomas, who had suffered a stab wound to his chest, police said.
Scarpino said that Pettiford allegedly questioned Thomas, attempting to start a fight, which Thomas declined to accpet. At that point, he allegedly grabbed Thomas' cell phone from his hand, prompting him to chase Pettiford, a struggle ensued and Thomas was stabbed in the chest.
Pettiford allegedly then placed Thomas' cell phone in his pocket and exited the movie theater, Scarpino said, as Thomas "collapsed to the floor indicating he could not breathe." Arriving paramedics attempted to save his life, but Thomas was later pronounced dead at a local hospital following treatment.
Two knives were recovered at the scene of the alleged stabbing.
Detectives with the Major Case Squad and Crime Scene Units conducted an extensive investigation, which determined that Pettiford was a person of interest. Police arrested Pettiford on days later, charging him with one count of second-degree murder.
Pettiford has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He remains remanded to the Westchester County Jail. He is due back in court next month, where he will face life in state prison.
“This arrest following this tragedy is another example why we have the finest Police Department in the country,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said at the time of his arrest. “Thank you to Commissioner (Charles) Gardner and the detectives assigned to this case for all their attention to detail and hard work.”
At the time, Garnder added that he “would like to warn those who choose to commit violent crime in his city that (police) will leave no stone unturned and will use all of their resources to hunt them down and hold (criminals) accountable for their actions.”