PATERSON, New Jersey - Two men found guilty in the gang-related shooting death of a 14-year-old girl in New Jersey were sentenced Friday.
Nazerah Bugg was gunned down as she was leaving a fried chicken restaurant on the corner and Clinton and North Main streets in Paterson in 2014.
Jeavonte Dennis, who was convicted of first-degree murder, was sentenced to 45 years in prison and will be eligible for parole after 37. Nyje Johnson was convicted of first-degree aggravated manslaughter and received a sentence of 22 years.
Nazerah, a freshman at International High School, was described as a popular and talented basketball player who aspired to play in the WNBA. Her friend was also injured in the shooting.
Authorities say 15 shots were fired into the group. The two girls were not the intended targets.
Bugg's family members spoke and the sentencing hearing, and her aunt gave an impassioned plea to the judge for the maximum sentence, saying "our kids' blood is on the street."
"They shot them down like dogs in the street," Bridget Bugg said. "Little girls that were no threat to them...Who fought for her that night, when in terror, she ran for her life? And they shot her in the back while she was running."
The judge also gave both defendants a chance to speak. Dennis declined, but Johnson addressed the family and expressed remorse.
"I just want to let the family know, her grandmother, I'm really sorry for your loss and your pain and suffering that you've been going through," he said. "And I'm sorry for my family, the pain and suffering you've been going through."