MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee County judge sentenced Mekael Kennedy, 18, of Hartford on Monday, March 12 to 35 years in prison plus another 12 years of extended supervision.
Kennedy pleaded guilty in January to one count of felony murder, as party to a crime, and one count of armed robbery, as party to a crime. Kennedy was sentenced to 27 years in prison plus eight years of extended supervision on the felony murder charge. The armed robbery count (to be served consecutively) earned Kennedy eight years in prison and four years of extended supervision.
Kennedy was one of two men accused of shooting a pizza delivery driver to death and then eating the pizza immediately afterward.
Clarence Taper, 60, was apparently robbed while delivering an order to the neighborhood near 75th and Glenbrook on the city’s northwest side on Sept. 15, 2017. Taper was a father, grandfather and dedicated employee at Buddy’s Pizza and Steak.
In court on Monday, Kennedy spoke to Taper's family in court.
"I want to apologize because I knew what I was doing, but I still did it," Kennedy said.
On the day the killing happened, Kennedy and his girlfriend ordered a pizza. Taper came to deliver it. When he entered the apartment, he was confronted by a masked man.
"And that man, who is Mekael Kennedy, shot him once in the chest and then ran. Picked up the pizza, took the little bit of money and went back to his cousin's apartment," said Paul Tiffin, prosecutor.
Investigating police canvassing the complex found Kennedy there -- eating the pizza.
Taper's family also addressed the court on Monday.
"You killed a man that told you he didn't have no money," said Terry Taper, Clarence's brother. "And then you left him there bleeding."
"This type of person should be shown no leniency," said Gwen Wade, Clarence's sister-in-law.
Kennedy and his girlfriend had played out the same scheme with another pizza delivery man days prior -- not shooting that victim. They're accused of holding up a Papa John’s driver at the same location near 75th and Glenbrook, taking $10 and food.
Judge Jeffrey Wagner wanted to know why Kennedy shot Taper, a family man looking forward to retirement and drawing on his pension.
"I didn't believe that I had that ability to do that," Kennedy told the judge.
"Well, you did it," Judge Wagner said.
"Yes. Now, I understand that, and I have to live with that for the rest of my life," Kennedy said.
"He was the breadwinner in the house. You know, he went out to get the first job, second job or third job to make sure that his family was taken care of," Terry Taper said.
"Look at that legacy of sadness that you've left behind -- for a piece of pizza and some change," Judge Wagner said.
Mekael Kennedy's co-defendant and cousin, D’Andre Kennedy, 25, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one count of harboring/aiding a felon, falsifying information. He was sentenced to serve nine months in the House of Correction, which was imposed and stayed — and he was instead placed on probation for 18 months. He was ordered to serve 90 days in the HOC as a condition of his probation, which was stayed pending review on March 14. He was also ordered to perform 30 hours of community service at a nonprofit organization.