In June 2006, Chanel Petro-Nixon was found dead in a garbage bag in front of 212 Kingston Ave. on a Brooklyn sidewalk.
“This is sacred ground,” said Public Advocate for the City of New York Letitia James.
Ten years later, her killer, Vernon Primus, has officially been indicted by the Brooklyn Grand Jury. Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson made the announcement last Wednesday at the Restoration Plaza.
Today Primus awaits trial in St. Vincent for unrelated charges, and it is the family’s and Thompson’s hope that the suspect be returned to Brooklyn to face trial. Thompson admitted that the procedure would not happen quickly but is optimistic that Primus will stand trial. If convicted, Primus could spend up to 25 years in prison.
However, information concerning the murder is still very much needed.
“He’s indicted but it doesn’t mean a conviction,” James said Saturday at the Justice Rally for Chanel Petro-Nixon. “We need witnesses. We need for you to come forward. We need for you to come forward now.”
At the gathering held Saturday, the streets were filled with Petro-Nixon family members, community members and politicians. NYPD officers handed out Crime Stoppers fliers that promised anonymity and a possible monetary award for giving any information that would help the case. The event was held to encourage individuals with any knowledge to come forward.
“There is somebody here in Brooklyn that knows something,” said Petro-Nixon’s mother, Lucita Petro-Nixon. Bruce Green, president of the Anti-Violence Coalition, referred to Lucita as a “strong woman” who was willing to put her arms around grieving mothers who had lost their children as well.
The rally was a celebration of the progress in the case and Chanel Petro-Nixon’s life. It was a chance for spiritual healing for the neighborhood as gospel music poured from speakers into the streets. Children played their drums and danced in the 16-year-old’s honor.
Lucita Petro-Nixon took the podium and expressed her hope, and she was far from alone. The Petro-Nixon family had come from all over for the rally and the family had spread halfway up the block.
“I am happy today for all the new news in Chanel’s case,” said Lucita Petro-Nixon. “We still have a way to go so that we have justice for Chanel. I love my daughter … I will never give up on her.”
New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy commended the community for its constant support for the family.
“I fight the narrative that we don’t care about ourselves,” said Cornegy. “We are willing to stand up and fight and hold [others] accountable.”
Thompson said, “Ten years ago a promising young woman’s life was tragically taken, leaving her family and the community searching for answers. My office remained steadfast in our search for justice and with this indictment, we will ensure that the defendant is brought back to Brooklyn and held accountable for the death of Chanel Petro-Nixon.”