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Updated 8 hours ago
When Jacob Talton looks at the faces of his three grandchildren, he sees their mother — and he has to turn away.
“I don't want them to see me crying,” he said Thursday before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jill Rangos, more than a dozen family and friends, and the man who fatally shot his daughter just over a year ago.
Janese Jackson-Talton rebuffed the advances her acquaintance, Charles McKinney, made in a Homewood bar in the early-morning hours of Jan. 22, 2016. Later, when Jackson-Talton walked outside with her friends, McKinney, then 41, of Penn Hills shot her in the chest.
McKinney took off when police arrived and led them on a chase through multiple municipalities before crashing into parked cars in Wilkinsburg.
“I have voicemails that I constantly listen to because that's the only way I'll hear her voice again,” her father said.
McKinney pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, firearms violations, resisting arrest, fleeing and reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison in exchange for his plea.
McKinney said the shooting was an accident — that he and Jackson-Talton, who was 29 and of Penn Hills, were friends, and he never meant to hurt her. Police, however, said in an affidavit that after she rebuffed McKinney, a security guard at the bar heard McKinney say he would “merk” her — slang for murder.
McKinney expressed remorse and apologized to his family and Jackson's.
“It was a horrible death and a tragic accident,” said McKinney, who kept his head lowered for most of the proceedings. “I was irresponsible and want to take responsibility for what I did.”
Jackson-Talton's brother, state Rep. Edward Gainey, said the shooting was neither an accident nor a tragedy.
“What happened that night ... was a decision,” Gainey said. “The tragedy is what comes after it.”
He described his sister's twins, “who will never see their mother again,” and her son, “who doesn't have enough memories to know how great she was.”
“To try to fill that void from what is gone from their life, it's difficult to do,” said Jacob Talton, who has taken on raising the children. His daughter wanted to be a criminologist, he said.
“Janese was my baby. She was my baby; she was my heart,” he said. “I live in perpetual hurt, perpetual pain.”
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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