what he perceived as potentially being killed. Now, I can’t ascertain whether in fact … the threat was real or the threat was what he perceived as a cumulative result of the threats he had experienced the day before, his experience the day before and what happened in the period before. But it’s clear in my mind that his perception of what was happening was that his life was threatened.”74
In addition to a sense of impending harm, Teich also thought that Khalil was in a state of emotional distress, based on high levels of stress and past trauma. Teich reviewed with us the chronic stress and traumas that had contributed to Khalil’s state of mental distress: his parents’ divorce, his sister’s angry departure from the family home, and the stabbing of a friend, which had led Sumpter to request a transfer from Graphic Arts High School to Jefferson.75
In summation, William Kunstler argued that, “the only issues that the defense is really raising is, one, whether he was acting in self-defense … or whether he was acting under this term “extreme emotional disturbance,” or essentially whether he intended to kill anyone under the murder statute.”76
Ann Gutmann concluded that Khalil’s actions were driven by anger, not by fear, “within the personality of a boy who felt that he was entitled to confront and punish those who dared to challenge him.”77
The jury found that Khalil had acted under intense emotional distress and reduced the charges to two counts of first degree manslaughter. The defense team asked for leniency in the sentencing, arguing that “two young lives have already been tragically lost, let’s not make matters worse by sending [Khalil] away.”78 On September 7, 1993, Judge Francis X. Egitto, who was known to favor long sentences, imposed the maximum sentence of 6 2/3 to 20 years in prison.79 Khalil was released on October 23, 1998.
The social milieu of East New York is, in no small measure, conditioned by physical processes of urban decay, exacerbated by cuts in essential municipal services in the early 1970s that were instituted well before New York City confronted any significant fiscal crisis.80
Firefighting services came under particularly careful scrutiny. Writing in 1969, the Rand Corporation saw East New York as the Brooklyn neighborhood most threatened by rising rates of fire and building abandonment:
[Most] of the neighborhoods with the fastest increases [in alarms] cluster together somewhat to the east of the high-alarm area in Brownsville….