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Man charged with murder in 2012 shooting of high school girl

It’s been 16 months since Joseph Pinkney lost his teenage daughter to a stray bullet at a rowdy house party.

Although more than 80 people were at the party and many witnessed the shooting of Betty “Jay” Pinkney, Las Vegas police didn’t have enough evidence to arrest the man suspected of firing the fatal shot — until now.

Demetrius Black, 20, also known as “Meak Meak,” was charged with murder Wednesday in the January 2012 shooting of the 17-year-old, closing the case on one of the valley’s few recent unsolved homicides.

“We needed somebody to step up and say, ‘I saw it,’” said Joseph Pinkney, 63. “Whoever did this needs to be in jail.”

As it turns, out, Black already was.

Black, along with cohorts Nigel Hinton, 19, and Jamal Johnson, 20, were arrested last year in a series of armed taxicab robberies in December 2011 and January 2012.

Hinton and Johnson, who were at the party with Black, are already in prison for their roles in the robbery spree. Black, who has been at Clark County Detention Center since March 2012, has four pending robbery cases.

Betty was killed about 12:45 a.m. during a house party at 4208 Tattersall Place, near Craig Road and Lamb Boulevard. She had been dancing with friends when an argument broke out between friends of Black, a Gerson Park Kingsman gang member, and Mike Logan, known as “Mikee Cityy,” according to a Las Vegas police report.

Logan had disrespected Hinton on Facebook, Black’s girlfriend, Starshae Pacheco, told police.

Pacheco, who also attended the party, told police Hinton and Logan got into a fist fight and the party began to disband.

Fearing a shooting would follow the fight, some partygoers left. Betty and her friends briefly left but returned after the dust seemed to settle.

Pacheco went outside with Black and walked across the street, where Black pulled out his gun and opened fire on the house, she told police. He fired once in the air before shooting six or seven shots at the house, according to the report.

The random gunfire sprayed at least 16 bullets throughout the small two-story home. A 32-year-old woman, Karen Sinatra, was shot twice but survived.

Homicide Lt. Ray Steiber said Betty and Sinatra were innocent bystanders.

“There was no provocation for it,” he said. “This is unwarranted childhood violence, with guns. Whether it escalated due to gang activity or just someone saying the wrong thing, there was no reason behind this.”

Black disputed his girlfriend’s account, telling police she lied to avoid jail and he had proof he was not the shooter. But he didn’t reveal that proof to detectives, instead noting he’d use the evidence to file false imprisonment charges against police.

Police linked Black to the shooting through the suspected murder weapon, a Glock model 17 9mm pistol that had been the service pistol of Clark County court marshal Ronald Lee Brooks.

North Las Vegas police recovered the gun while investigating a domestic disturbance about a month after Pinkney’s death. The man told police his brother had bought the gun for $700 from a man named “Meak Meak.”

It’s unclear how Brooks’ gun, which ballistics confirmed was used to kill Pinkney, ended up in the hands of a violent gangmember.

According to the report, Brooks went on vacation two months before the shooting. When he returned, the gun was missing from the case under his bed.

He reported the gun stolen and told police one of his teenage son’s friends might have taken it while visiting the home, the report said.

But in an interview with robbery detectives, the son said he took the gun for “protection” at a party, where a teen he knew only as “Meak Meak” robbed him of the gun.

During their investigation of the shooting, homicide detectives asked for a follow-up interview with the son but were denied by his father.

Steiber said detectives also received numerous tips, many anonymous, that linked Black to the crime. Police also subpoenaed Black’s Facebook and cell phone records, which showed he lied to police about his involvement, according to report.

Although the case may have disappeared from public view in the year since Pinkney’s death, Steiber said detectives never stopped working.

“Hopefully this is some resolution to the family and friends that suffered a loss,” he said.

For Joseph Pinkney, time hasn’t healed his grief.

He keeps photos of Betty on his living room wall under a “beloved daughter” banner. There’s a certificate of achievement in athletics next to the photo. Betty competed in basketball and track in high school and hoped to attend college.

Although Betty didn’t have a chance to graduate, her father obtained her diploma from Desert Pines High School.

“It was important to her,” he said. “It was something she was working hard for.”

Betty wanted to be a firefighter after college. She had three firemen in her family willing to show her the ropes, Joseph Pinkney said.

Her commitment to academics inspired her family and friends, he said.

That included best friend Amber Robertson, 19, who went to night school to get her high school diploma.

Robertson was with Betty the night she died. The death changed her outlook on life, she said.

“Everything I do now, I do for her,” Robertson said. “It showed me that every day isn’t promised. You have to live each day like it’s your last.”

Black’s best days are likely behind him.

On top of the murder charge, he faces dozens of felonies in the taxicab robbery spree and another robbery.

In the latter case, Black and another man were charged with holding a woman at gunpoint, forcing her to open her apartment and stealing expensive electronics while keeping her at gunpoint.

He and his co-defendant, Jaclyn Downey, also took the woman’s debit card and forced her to reveal her PIN, police said.

According to his girlfriend, Black showed little remorse for Pinkney’s death.

Pachecho told police that when she confronted Black about the shooting, he told her Pinkney shouldn’t have been running around with those “haters,” the report said.

Pacheco, who was pregnant with Black’s daughter, asked him how he’d feel if she were killed at a house party by random gunfire.

“Black,” the report said, “told her to get out of the room.”

Staff writer Brian Haynes contributed to this report. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.

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