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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cops: 2 trapped teen before slaying


    The two teens accused of killing Albany High junior Tyler Rhodes trapped the 17-year-old inside Hoffman Park, with one of the teens blocking his escape route while the other plunged a knife into his chest, police said.

    Jah-Lah Tyree Vanderhorst, 16, drew the knife and pierced Rhodes’ upper chest during a 7 p.m. confrontation at Hoffman Park on Saturday, police said Tuesday. As Vanderhorst swung the knife, police said, Dhoruba A. Shauib, 19, stood behind Rhodes to keep him from getting away.

    Rhodes’ relatives, some in tears, watched in City Court on Tuesday morning as Vanderhorst of 414 Delaware Ave. and Shauib of 208 Jefferson St. pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Vanderhorst also was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

    “”Tyler is smiling down on us,”” one woman said as the Rhodes family took their seats in court.

    Vanderhorst wore a white dress shirt and Shauib wore a white T-shirt as they faced Judge Rachel Kretser. Both showed no emotion as they entered their pleas.

    Because of Vanderhorst’s age, his mother was allowed behind the glass that separates defendants and court officials from the public. She gave him a kiss on the cheek as he was led off in handcuffs.

    Families for both defendants were in court, but no words were exchanged among the parties.

    “”It is a sad day for the city of Albany. This is a tragedy,”” said Matthew Smalls, an attorney who spoke for the Vanderhorst family but is not representing the teen. “”We are potentially looking at the loss of three young men.””

    Both teens were held without bail, and their cases are set to go before a grand jury Friday.

    Police did not give details on what led to the fatal altercation, but Deputy Chief Stephen Reilly said there was an ongoing dispute between the suspects and Rhodes.

    The South End‘s Hoffman Park was a favorite spot for Rhodes, who could often be seen shooting hoops and hanging out with friends.

    He was a junior at Albany High School who sprinted on the track and field team and was popular among his classmates.

    Ron Lesko, a spokesman for the city schools, said grief counselors are available for students dealing with Rhodes’ death.

    “”This is something that has affected a large number of students in our community,”” he said.

    On Monday, the track team ran laps in his honor and students wore blue in his memory.

    Vanderhorst had been charged with three misdemeanors before his latest arrest, according to court records.

    In October, he was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after police said he had a joint while sitting on a Lark Street stoop.

    He was due to appear in court on Tuesday in that case and another pending one in which he was charged with second-degree harassment and third-degree criminal trespass.

    That case alleges that Vanderhorst went into an adult learning center at 141 Western Ave. – from which he was banned — and pushed a man on Jan. 6.

    On Tuesday, Vanderhorst’s Facebook profile showed he was a member of the group “”In memory of Tyler Rhodes.””

    He posted a status on Sunday that said, “”Love and tears for my bro Tyler and everyone wear blue in honor of Tyler.””

    According to the profile, Vanderhorst went to Albany High, but officials did not confirm that.

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