Man sentenced to 55 to 110 years in slaying of girl, 2

Posted at 6:59 PM, August 23, 2021 and last updated 8:01 PM, June 14, 2023

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man has been sentenced to more than a half-century in prison in the shooting death of a Philadelphia toddler gunned down in her mother’s arms almost two years ago.

Tayvon Thomas, 27, was sentenced to 55 to 110 years Thursday on convictions in three crimes, including the October 2019 death of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera and the wounding of her mother and a contractor working in their home.

Thomas pleaded guilty in May to third-degree murder, attempted murder and related charges. Prosecutors said he fired a rifle into a Kensington row house in a botched attempt to target the toddler’s father. He was also sentenced in shots fired at a sport utility vehicle that day and in the stabbing of three jail guards last year while in custody.

Thomas apologized to the child’s mother, saying he took “full responsibility” for his actions that day. Defense attorney Earl Kauffman said his client consistently admitted to firing the rifle and also cited the defendant’s exceptionally difficult childhood.

The case of another man charged in the shooting remains pending. An AK-47 rifle used in the shooting was later recovered in New Jersey, and the attorneys general of both states announced a joint gun trafficking initiative to share intelligence to target gun crimes.

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