Guilty: Jury convicts woman in 2013 Cortland shooting

Shanessa Pittman in 2011 (Photo provided by City of Cortland Police Department)

A Cortland County jury took less than two hours to convict Shanessa Pittman on Wednesday of shooting and injuring a man in 2013 on Main Street.

Pittman, 32, was convicted Wednesday of first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, felonies. The jury found Pittman shot Jevar Sturridge, 26, in the arm on Aug. 30 from the front porch of a two-family residence at 152 Main Street with a .22 caliber handgun, hitting him from across the street as he stood near the intersection of Randall Street.

Pittman faces a potential sentence of three-and-a-half to 15 years in prison, according to state penal law. Judge Julie Campbell scheduled Pittman’s sentencing for 1 p.m. Aug. 15.

Campbell thanked the jury of four men and eight women, saying, “You have done your share in preserving a trial by jury.” Such a right is not available in many places around the world, she noted.

Pittman, dressed in a blue button-down shirt, leaned over her right elbow as she sat and listened to the verdict in painful resignation. She tried to hurry the end of the proceeding along after the verdict was read, walking toward the defendant’s exit in handcuffs.

Related: Trial underway for woman implicated in 2013 Cortland shooting

District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said he was satisfied with the jury’s verdict and credited his staff for their assistance.

“Obviously, we’re very gratified by the jury’s considered verdict and that we’ve been able to bring a violent felon to account for her crimes despite this case being six years old,” Perfetti said. The length between the crime and the trial was a difficulty in prosecution, as well as Pittman’s fleeing with the gun after the shooting and the fact that Sturridge is in federal prison on a drug conviction, were all issues the prosecution had to address, he said.

The prosecution relied heavily on the eyewitness accounts of Leon “Chuck” Smith and his daughter, Kayla Smith, who testified they saw Pittman holding the gun on the porch of the 152 Main Street duplex they shared.

“The Smiths made this case,” Perfetti said, adding that Kayla Smith’s testimony was especially crucial as she was the person who most immediately saw Pittman with the gun after the shot was fired. “And at the time she was just a teenager — she was thirteen.”

Perfetti noted that the lead investigator in the case, Sgt. Pat Sweeney, testified Wednesday morning other residents who might have information scattered after the incident. Sweeney wrote in his investigation report, “Responding officers had interviewed several other people in the area… However, none of them would cooperate, and several other possible witnesses had fled from the scene.”  

Sturridge also did not cooperate with officers after he was shot, according to Sweeney’s report. When Lt. David Guerrera called Upstate University Hospital to check on the condition of Sturridge, identified in the report as V-1, Guerrera was told Sturridge had checked himself out of the hospital, according to the report. A hospital surveillance camera caught the license plate number of the vehicle that picked Sturridge up and officers ran the plate, discovering it was registered to 39 Cleveland Street, Sweeney wrote. “Upon (Sturridge’s) return to that address, Sgt. Cute was able to speak with (him),” Sweeney noted. “However, he was uncooperative.”

Without the aid of Sturridge or other witnesses, the Smiths’ testimonies became critical to the case, Perfetti said.

“They are greatly to be commended as members of our community,” he said. “If it had not been for the Smiths being willing to come forward, we would not have been able to identify the defendant as Pittman in this matter.”

City police Lt. Michael Strangeway was also gratified by the conviction after the short, two-day trial.

“We take violent crime seriously in Cortland,” Strangeway said. “I’m glad to see justice was done and I think the community’s a safer place as a result of the verdict.”