By Christina Santucci
Authorities have charged a 26-year-old man with killing a Richmond Hill resident with a single gunshot to the chest in the city’s first murder of 2014, the Queens district attorney said.
Sheldon Smith, who was being sought by police for more than a month in the death of 22-year-old Julio Mora, was apprehended in Long Island, the NYPD said Monday night.
South Jamaica resident Smith, who also goes by the name Cory Smith, was arraigned on second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon charges, the DA said. Authorities allege he fired one shot into Mora’s chest, killing him, according to the criminal complaint filed by the DA.
Mora’s heartbroken relatives said they were relieved to hear about an arrest in his murder.
“We are happy he was caught,” said Mora’s sister Natasha Gibson. “It still doesn’t bring my brother back because we are still hurting. We are just hoping that justice will be served.”
The Police Department said Mora was the first person murdered in the city this year.
Officers were called to a home on 113th Avenue early New Year’s Day and found the wounded 22-year-old, who they believe had been in a physical altercation and shot, the NYPD said.
The following evening, police said Smith was being sought in connection with the homicide.
A spokeswoman for the NYPD said an investigation led the authorities to Smith in Long Island, and the South Jamaica resident was taken into custody without incident.
Mora’s sister complimented detectives from the 113th Precinct who handled her brother’s case.
“Being that they didn’t catch him right away, I thought it would take longer,” she said.
Gibson said the family plans to attend all of Smith’s court appearances that are open to them. He was next scheduled to appear in Queens Criminal Court Friday. A call to Smith’s attorney was not returned by press time.
At the time of his death, Mora was living with Gibson, her husband and her two children in an apartment in the same home where the siblings were raised by their grandparents.
“For me having to explain to my 8-year-old and 6-year-old sons that they are never going to see their uncle again is really hard,” Gibson said.
Mora’s relatives said the 22-year-old’s mother died unexpectedly from a heart attack on New Year’s Day 19 years before her son was killed.
“It was the same day that my mom passed away, so it’s been really hard for us,” she said.
If given the opportunity, Gibson would like to ask Smith, “Was it worth it?”
“Not only did he hurt his family, but he hurt his own family,” she said.
Reach managing editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org by phone at 718-260-4589.