CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In 2008, Kathina Thomas, 10, of Albany, was killed by a stray bullet. At 15, the perpetrator, Jermayne Timmons was basically a kid himself. Fast forward more than a decade later, he has been granted parole and is now sharing his story of change and redemption.
“There’s nothing else to say about it. It’s just that I was young and dumb man. Young and dumb and I’m so glad that kid is gone.” The kid Jermayne Timmons is talking about is his former self. At 15 a stray bullet from the gun he fired killed Kathina as she played on her front steps. The bullet had been meant for a rival he had confronted on her street. Jermayne was housed in several different correctional facilities, basically growing up behind bars.
He could have given up, checking off days on the calendar. Instead, he used the time to get his bachelor’s degree in psychology and teach himself about fitness and nutrition. News10’s Anya Tucker met with Timmons 3 years ago at the Fishkill correctional facility, where he shared how as a kid, he was essentially left to raise himself. Anya asked him during that interview in 2020 what he might say if he could to Katina’s family. “I take full responsibility you know. Let them know like, from day one I never had any intention to hurt a child,” he told her.
After that interview Kathina’s brother George Yhap told Anya that he had opened his heart to forgiveness. “I’m just trying to, I guess, leave a legacy behind for her,” he added.
On December 6th, 2022, Jermayne Timmons was granted parole. “Being stuck in prison for so long that became the norm, kind of. So, it was like being born again. So, it was like, ‘Oh this is really another starting point.’ And, I’m loving this chapter of my life.” This new chapter includes his wife Sandra. They’ve been married for 5 years. “I see the love that he has for himself and for others, and it’s just over the moon,” said Sandra.
Focusing on others is a big part of Jermayne’s new job and career. He just obtained his certification as a personal trainer. He says he wants to motivate others on their own journey to self-improvement. “You sitting here and you ain’t doing nothing with yourself, you can’t grow. That’s one thing I want people to understand. And, as for my future. Man, I just want to be happy. And happiness to everybody is different. Happiness to me is just being with my family and my loved ones, my lovely wife. Going through our ups and downs together. That’s happiness for me.” Jermayne says plans on combining his psychology degree with personal training to start his own business, inspiring clients to become emotionally and physically stronger.
As for how Kathina’s family feels about his release, her brother sent News10 this statement: “May God be with him and guide him to do the right thing moving forward as he doesn’t deserve to be locked away forever. I would like to see him get involved in nonprofit organizations to deter violence such as ROTO Foundation Inc (Reach One Teach One), Stop The Violence etc. May God bless him.”
Yhap is also speaking out about the notification process for victims when it comes perpetrators and their parole hearings and release. The Times Union’s Rob Gavin reported that a letter notifying the family went to an old address where the shooting took place. The family has long since moved. Yhap sent a statement which read in part, “Finding this out from a news media outlet and not the public official made us feel again like third class citizens.” He went on to say, “First they should’ve informed us of his release at least a year prior through a phone call or a visit to my mother. Just to give her an opportunity in case she decided to move.”
Darrell Camp, spokesperson for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office told News10, “The District Attorney’s Office did attempt to notify Kathina’s family about the potential release of Mr. Timmons by mail. That mail wasn’t returned to us. All victims are asked to contact our office to keep information up to date for this purpose. In the absence of that communication, we presumed the letter was received. We were later informed through news reports that contact information for the family has changed. We won’t comment on the decision of the parole board, however, this is an opportunity to review the lessons we learned about gun violence back in 2008.”
According to the New York State Department of it is the NYSDOCS, in certain felony cases it is the responsibility of the prosecutor of the case to provide the victims or loved-ones with a form so they can register with the DOCS and Community Supervision’s Office of Victim Assistance if they wish to be updated on their case. The office told News10 that no individuals associated with the Timmons conviction had been registered to receive notifications with the DOCCS Office of Victim Assistance and that “Pursuant to Correction Law section 149, notice was made prior to Timmons’ release to the Albany Office of the District Attorney and the Albany Police Department.”