BOSTON – Five-year-old Kai Leigh Harriott sat in the front of the courtroom in her wheelchair and looked directly at the man who had just pleaded guilty Thursday to firing the shot that paralyzed her.
At first, she broke down, crying harder than she ever had since the night nearly three years ago when Anthony Warren, after an argument he and his brother had with her neighbors, fired three rounds at the three-family house where she was sitting on the porch.
After a sip of water and some consoling from her mother, Kai spoke. “What you done to me was wrong,” she said to the man seated just 10 feet away. “But I still forgive him.”
Warren, 29, of Boston, had been scheduled to go to trial in Suffolk Superior Court on six assault and weapons charges last month but instead pleaded guilty to all charges Thursday.
Prosecutors say Warren, his brother and others had an argument with people who lived on the first floor of the building in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood where Kai lived with her family. They left, then Warren returned around 11 p.m. on July 1, 2003, and fired three rounds at the house.
One of the bullets hit Kai – then 3 years old – as she sat on a third-floor porch with an older sister. The bullet shattered her spine, permanently paralyzing her from the chest down.
After his guilty plea, the girl, her mother and two sisters gave emotional statements to Judge Margot Botsford, who then sentenced Warren to 13-15 years in prison and five years of probation.
Kai’s mother, Tonya David, said she tried to hate Warren but had forgiven him a long time ago.
“For you to come today and plead guilty is the greatest victory of all,” she said.
After Kai spoke, Warren stood in shackles and handcuffs and accepted responsibility. “I’m sorry,” he told her. She said nothing as her mother embraced Warren, and members of their families hugged in the courtroom.
“She has the strength of a trouper,” David said, noting that her daughter showed more emotion at the hearing than she ever had. “She has never complained once. She has never cried about being in a wheelchair, not once, not once.”