For almost five hours in a Moss Justice Center courtroom Friday, Peter Krenn sat silently as three of the people involved in the shooting death of his son changed their stories after 15 years.
As he walked into court, Peter Krenn said he tries not to think all the time about his son’s death and the gun that killed him. Krenn has been an advocate for gun control for a long time.
“What happened to him, with that gun, it is just so wrong,” Krenn said.
But Krenn does think about it. And the killers who used the gun forced him to relive it again in the courtroom Friday.
One thing has not changed in 15 years. Erik Krenn, 16 years old, driving the refurbished BMW given to him by his widower father in 1998, made the mistake of pulling into a driveway to turn around. A buddy, also 16, was with him but was not shot. The two teenaged boys were just driving.
Then four men, driving an old beat-up Chevy that court testimony showed cost $150 and had no license plate and no insurance, blocked him in. Two of the men were teens. They had been carrying around a gun all day during a spree of smoking marijuana.
Two of them demanded money at the driver’s window of the BMW. Krenn tried to drive off.
Erik Krenn, 16 years old, his mother dead from cancer, was shot. He drove until the car crashed, and he died inside that car his father gave him.
Now, the guy who admitted after the cops caught him that he shot Krenn claims he did not do the shooting. Antonio Gordon made the claim even though pleaded guilty in 1999, had been in prison for 14 years, and never once claimed - during dozens of court hearings - that he was not the shooter.
Antonio Gordon was sentenced in 1999 to 40 years in prison after admitting he was “the triggerman” at age 16. He admitted it to police and, later, when he pleaded guilty. He never said he wasn’t the shooter, ever, in court.
Yet in 2013, after all his other appeals, and after state and federal lawsuits claiming his lawyers and America and the justice system and the police and everybody else are responsible for him being in prison, Antonio Gordon now says he didn’t do it. Gordon, at age 30, who had been committing violent felonies since his pre-teen years, now says his brother shot Erik Krenn.
Gordon’s lawyer, Jeremy Thompson, says his client deserves a trial because of all this “new evidence” that claims Monta Gordon, the brother who was right there during the crime and is serving 30 years himself for murder, shot Erik Krenn.
Prosecutors balked, arguing it is preposterous that 15 years later Antonio Gordon is making such a claim after all his appeals to every court that would listen denied his appeals.
Every judge, every court, has told Antonio Gordon to go back to prison, because that is where shooters who kill teenagers go for decades.
The prosecutor who put Antonio Gordon in prison all those years ago in 1999, Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson, was livid in court Friday that Antonio Gordon even had filed this motion for a new trial based on allegations of new evidence discovered later. He called it a “sham” and a “farce” that Gordon claims now that he never shot anybody.
Antonio Gordon even cried in court Friday, as he claimed to be a victim.
Peter Krenn sat on a courtroom bench and sighed for a son shot with a gun. He had to sit there and listen to it again, from every angle, from those who were a part of murder and who now want to change the story.
Monta Gordon testified Friday that he shot Erik Krenn, after saying for 15 years that Antonio was the shooter.
He even testified that he and the others in the criminal gang blamed Antonio because, given that Antonio was just 16 at the time of the crime, they thought the courts would go lighter on him.
The criminals were, as usual, dead wrong: Antonio Gordon got 40 years.
Monta Gordon also has lost several appeals and lawsuits that claimed he should not be in prison. Monta Gordon also pleaded guilty and admitted everything in 1999, including that his brother was the shooter. Yet now he wants to change his tune.
A third co-defendant serving 30 years for the crime, Terrance McCreary, who also said in 1998 that Antonio Gordon was the shooter, also says now it was Monta Gordon.
McCreary, like the Gordon brothers, had been committing crimes since he was a juvenile. He also has tried every avenue in the legal boulevard to try to get off since pleading guilty to accessory to murder.
The fourth man involved in Erik Krenn’s shooting, Gary Moffatt, has not changed his story about Antonio Gordon being the shooter. Moffatt got 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in 1999. He remains in jail.
Thompson, the prosecutor, told Judge John C. Hayes III that three who changed their stories were liars who had used up any way to try to get out of prison.
“It is obvious all three of these people here perjured themselves, and lied here today,” Thompson said. “And now, almost 15 years later, Mr. Krenn has to come and sit through this again.”
Peter Krenn sat in the front row of the courtroom, silently. His only family was dead.
It’s unknown how many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on court-appointed lawyers, and court-time, and incarceration costs, for the four men who killed Erik Krenn.
Thompson pointed out that all the men who changed their testimony were still involved in the crime. “The hand of one is the hand of all,” he said, and they all were guilty.
Erik Krenn was shot by a huge .357 Saturday night special, allegedly belonging to another criminal who went to jail a week before the killing. So these young criminals decided to get that gun and use it.
McCreary, incredibly, even testified Friday that the group had the gun that day for “protection.”
“You need protection out in the street,” McCreary testified.
The prosecutor, Thompson, asked McCreary: “You needed protection from two 16 year olds?”
“In the streets, everybody needs protection,” McCreary answered.
But the gun wasn’t used for protection. It was used to kill a kid because these guys wanted his shiny silver BMW bought by the father’s hard work and love. All they had was an old crappy Chevy. Part of the joyride that day was to get a stereo for the old Chevy. The ride included stealing a license plate.
The other part of the joyride, testimony showed: Find a gun.
Peter Krenn has argued so often that civilized society does not need personal arsenals for self protection. He has not taken issue with hunters, or sportsmen. His problem is with handguns and assault weapons that, facts and courtrooms show, end up in the hands of people who kill teenagers.
The word “gun” was said more than 50 times in court Friday,
The brother who now claims to be the shooter, Monta Gordon, said the name “Erik Krenn” once.
“I shot Erik Krenn,” he said.
The words echoed in the courtroom, right past Peter Krenn.
Terrance McCreary never said the name of the dead - if he even knows it.
The name Erik Krenn was never uttered by Antonio Gordon, who did use the word “triggerman,”
“I wasn’t the triggerman,” he claimed.
Peter Krenn sat through it all, silently, with no family with him.
Judge Hayes did not rule Friday. He took the matter under advisement, with a ruling set for coming days.
Peter Krenn left the courtroom.
In Rock Hill’s City Hall this month are 19 of Peter Krenn’s best photographs. All are hung so that the public can see his award-winning pictures.
Photographers are called, in the vernacular, “shooters.” The hope is to get the best “shot.”
Pete Krenn shoots pictures.
A criminal shot his son, but that was with a gun.
Andrew Dys * 803-329-4065 * firstname.lastname@example.org