Jeremiah Brogden would’ve been a senior this year at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School in Baltimore, looking forward to attending his prom and receiving his diploma.

But on Sept. 2, 2022, Nizah Daniels fatally shot Brogden, whom family members described as a loving son, devoted brother and father, and talented football player, on school grounds as classes let out for Labor Day weekend. He was 17.

Inside the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse on Friday, Juanita Gaines, a staff member at Mervo, spoke about the trauma that members of the school community have experienced as a result of the killing. She noted that she previously worked in law enforcement — she’s a former deputy sheriff in the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office — before going into education.

“I didn’t sign up to watch one of my students be gunned down on school grounds,” Gaines said.

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Stating that it was “one of the cases that I will never forget,” Circuit Judge Dana M. Middleton later sentenced Daniels, 18, of Kresson, to life in prison, with all time suspended but 65 years, and three years’ probation for first-degree murder and related crimes. She described the effects of the killing on family members and students as well as the city as immeasurable.

“It’s not a secret that almost every day we are confronted with commentary about youth violence running rampant in the city of Baltimore,” Middleton said. “I’m not going to pretend that anything but a school shooting occurred.”

Daniels, she said, was the only person with a gun in a sea of students. Middleton noted that both parents are in his life and disputed that he has mental health issues

“What is the excuse?” she asked. “There’s none.”

Brogden was a junior at Mervo and running back on the Mustangs varsity football team. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott was his mentor.

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Brogden’s sister, Destiny, repeated her sibling’s full name three times. “I say his name for each bullet you put in my baby brother’s body,” she said.

She described her brother as a star on and off the field and called him her “superhero.”

“He’s in heaven shining, being the greatest football player ever,” she said, before referencing his jersey number. “Forever 30.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Victoria Yeager pushed for a sentence of life in prison — plus 15 years.

Daniels, she said, was not a student at Mervo and took a life in the most public way possible. He used a ghost gun — a firearm that’s usually privately made and does not have a serial number — in the shooting. He was 17 at the time and on supervision in the juvenile justice system.

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But Roland Harris, Daniels’ attorney, requested a sentence of life in prison with all time suspended but 40 years, which he said was the plea agreement that prosecutors extended before trial.

He disputed that Daniels went to Mervo to kill Brogden. Instead, Daniels wanted to meet girls and watch the football season opener against Edmondson-Westside High School, Harris said.

“What I see are two kids — one takes it way over the top,” Harris said. “Nizah Daniels walked away. He walked away in that parking lot — more than once.”

Daniels’ father, Tony, was one of three loved ones who spoke on his behalf and described him as innocent, sweet and silly. He expressed his deepest condolences to the Brogden family and added that he was praying for everyone in the courtroom.

“Nizah, I love you,” he said. “If I could, I swear, I would lay my life down for you.”

Pleading with the judge to show mercy, he added, “This is not the kid that I know.”

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