Yonette Newton and Yootha Pierre, mother and aunt of Natisha Barrow, still live in the Flatbush building where Barrow was murdered in 2011. Newton has been caring for her granddaughter, Aaliyah, since Barrow’s death 2 ½ years ago.
Newton keeps family pictures of Barrow and Akeem Deane—Barrow’s accused murderer and the father of Barrow’s child—in her apartment for Aaliyah, who is turning 4 in December. “Aaliyah should know where she came from, even if they’re not around anymore,” said Pierre, Barrow’s aunt. Barrow moved to Brooklyn from Guyana with her family when she was 13.
Family members responded to testimony today in the second day of the Brooklyn Supreme Court trial of Deane, accused of murdering 21-year-old Barrow on the morning of March 9, 2011, with 2-year-old Aaliyah in the room. Deane is charged with second-degree murder and is facing life in prison. “It’s been such a long process,” said Newton, who testified yesterday during the first day of trial.
Several of Barrow’s family members joined Newton and Pierre in the courtroom, where they listened to three witnesses and a harrowing 911 call. “Hearing the 911 tape, and her screams in the background, I just immediately started crying,” said Pierre.
The family members nodded their heads following the testimony of Abel Dorvil, a neighbor who testified that he saw Deane trap Barrow in a chokehold at the door of her apartment at 879 Lenox Road. “He slammed her on the floor, and the door closed,” said Dorvil.
Family members said Barrow had dreams of becoming a police officer. Deane and Barrow met at Canarsie Night School after Barrow’s arrival from Guyana. Barrow’s mother said that she was wary of Deane from the start. “When I first met him, something came over me,” said Newton. “He was always nice, but behind your back, something was going on.”
According to police, Deane was still in the apartment when officers arrived. Police officer Andrew Barron—the first officer to respond to the 911 call—testified today that when he arrived, he saw Barrow lying on the floor of the apartment and Deane holding a knife. “We told him to drop the knife,” said Barron, “He didn’t. He took the knife and stabbed himself.” After stabbing himself once, Deane dropped the weapon and police arrested him.
Deane sat passively in the courtroom today, dressed in a gray sweater and a button-up shirt. He made eye contact with no one and only moved to listen to the whispers of his attorney, Joseph Ostrowsky.
The prosecutor, Michelle Kaminsky, is expected to call seven more witnesses next week, including the medical examiner. Family members said that they were told that if they cannot remain emotionally reserved in the courtroom next week, they should not come. “I’m not coming on Monday,” said Pierre, Barrow’s aunt. “I can’t bear to see those pictures.”