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Court reporter's killer receives life

| Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

Family and friends of a slain Allegheny County court reporter told a judge Friday they believe the truth surrounding her death was covered up even as the man convicted of her killing was sentenced to life in prison.

A jury in October convicted Jayquon Massey, 19, of Overbrook of first-degree murder for firing the shots that hit Cheryl Wilds in the neck on Nov. 21, 2007, as she carried her Thanksgiving groceries home in her Perry North neighborhood. Wilds, 47, died three months later.

"Have mercy on this young man. I'm sure he didn't mean to kill Cheryl," said Sharon Keys, Wilds' longtime friend. "If she was here, she wouldn't have wanted it to go down in this way."

Massey didn't say anything at the hearing, except to tell his mother he loved her as he was led away in shackles.

Massey testified during the trial that he was shooting at armed men in a red sport utility vehicle who fired at him. His lawyer said the shooting was self-defense. Massey said his shots missed and hit Wilds.

But family and friends of Wilds yesterday questioned whether her sons Patrick, 15, and Robert, 26, might have played a role in the death. Massey testified at trial that Robert Wilds gave him the gun to protect himself when he called for help. Robert Wilds denied that.

Patrick Wilds testified he was on the same block with Massey when his mother was shot as she walked with her boyfriend, George Wilson.

Neither son was in court and they could not be reached.

Wilson told Common Pleas Judge John K. Reilly that he believed the bullets were meant for him because he was keeping drugs out of the Wilds' house.

"The judgment should be overturned and a new trial should be granted," said Wilson, Wilds' boyfriend of five years. "We should get to the bottom of this. The whole incident was based on trying to kill me. The truth was not told in this case."

Hattie Scott, 76, Wilds' stepmother and Massey's great-grandmother, said she didn't believe Massey's story.

"It's a shame, and they're covering it up. I want the truth," Scott said.

Noreen Re , a court reporter who worked with Wilds, said her death has impacted the entire office.

"Her death put a void in her family but in her friends also," Re said. "Our office is quite empty without her. She would do anything for anybody."

Massey's family questioned whether Wilds' popularity in the courthouse -- where she often worked -- interfered with his ability to get a fair trial.

"I feel like he was ganged on by the entire county. This courtroom was like a big zoo," said Susie Jones, Massey's grandmother. "He couldn't get a fair trial in this county."

Massey's attorney, Noah Geary, said he plans to appeal but said he doesn't think there is a basis to move the trial out of Allegheny County.

"I didn't feel this case garnered so much publicity that the jury pool was tainted," Geary said.

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