WHITE PLAINS – A Yonkers man was sentenced by Westchester County
Court Judge Barry Warhit today (Wednesday) to 18 years in state prison
in the 2017 stabbing death of a Yonkers movie theater employee.

Michael Pettiford, 17, pled guilty in January to the April 15, 2017 killing
of Daij Thomas, at the Showcase Cinema de Lux Ridge Hill Movie Theater
in Yonkers.

At about 12:44 a.m. on April 15 of last year Pettiford approached Thomas
who was sitting in the theater lobby and began to question and taunt him
and then challenged him to a fight.

Thomas declined to fight, but Pettiford grabbed his cell phone. Thomas
took off with Pettiford running after him. A struggle ensured during which
time Thomas was stabbed once in the chest.

Two knives were recovered at the scene.

Pettiford placed the victim’s phone in his pocket and walked out.

He was later arrested by Yonkers Police and charged with manslaughter
and robbery and was sentenced to 18 years in prison on each charge, the
sentences to run concurrently.

At sentencing, Thomas’ mother said in a statement that her son was
“a young man who stood up to his responsibilities” as a son
and as a father. She described her son’s death as “a parent’s
nightmare,” but forgave Pettiford.

Another statement was made by the mother of Thomas’ three-year-old
son, who said the boy asks for his father. She too, said she forgave the


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