York judge: Gibson to be tried as adult in ambush robbery, homicide of ex-boyfriend

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Homicide victim Stefen Simmons

A young woman will stand trial as an adult on murder charges in the Chanceford Township ambush robbery and homicide of her ex-boyfriend, Stefen Simmons.

Da'Zanie Gibson was about six weeks shy of her 18th birthday when Simmons was fatally shot in the chest about 11:40 p.m. Jan. 6, 2019, while in the first block of Oriole Circle, not far from his home, state police have said.

Simmons, 20, was killed as he resisted being robbed, allegedly by Tysheem Santiago, Gibson's apparent boyfriend at the time.

Now 19, Gibson and defense attorney Korey Leslie had petitioned the court to transfer her charges of first-degree murder, robbery and criminal conspiracy to juvenile court.

On Thursday, presiding Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook denied that request and ordered Gibson stand trial in adult court, according to court records.

Homicide victim Stefen Simmons (at right), seen here with ex-girlfriend Da'Zanie Gibson, one of three people accused of robbing and killing him.

Mental-health experts testified at Gibson's Aug. 20 juvenile decertification hearing about their opinions regarding whether Gibson should have her case moved to juvenile court.

Neglected by parents: Dr. Larry Rotenberg, testifying for the prosecution, and the defense's clinical and forensic psychologist, Amy Taylor, agreed that Gibson's childhood was one of neglect and exploitation, according to the young woman's account.

"Da'Zanie's life has essentially been marked by neglect and trauma," Taylor testified. "She really doesn't know anything different."

Gibson has told police and Taylor she didn't know Simmons would be shot.

"She expressed remorse and shame, and sort of a level of disbelief," Taylor said, adding she believes Gibson could be rehabilitated in a secure juvenile facility by the time state law would require her release in February 2022, when she turns 21.

But Rotenberg said his evaluation of Gibson makes him question whether she has real remorse for Simmons' homicide and noted Gibson didn't try to call 911 or get help for the dying man.

Da'Zanie Gibson

He said she minimizes her own responsibility in the homicide case and in past incidents where she has been adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court for thefts.

"It's as if she had nothing to do with it, or had no other choices," Rotenberg said, adding Gibson does what she wants to do when she wants to do it, then blames others for her poor choices.

"The bottom line … is there's no way this young woman by February of 2022 is going to be rehabilitated," he said.

The homicide: According to state police, Gibson, Santiago and Gibson's older brother, Montrice Gibson, schemed to rob Simmons, who posted on social media that he was looking to party and posted photos of himself holding cash and jewelry.

By that time he and Da'Zanie Gibson had broken up, but he and Montrice Gibson were still supposed to be friends, according to testimony from the trio's preliminary hearing.

They contacted Simmons and told him they would pick him up, police said.

Tysheem Santiago

Once in the victim's neighborhood, Da'Zanie Gibson drove past Simmons and his younger brother, who were outside waiting, and dropped off Santiago down the street, according to police.

She doubled back, picked up the Simmons brothers, drove to where Santiago was lying in wait and stopped the car, police allege. She then rolled down the passenger-side window where her ex was sitting, police said.

More:Chanceford Twp. homicide victim's brother implicates 3 defendants

Struggle, gunshot: That's when a gun-wielding Santiago approached the victim and tried to rob him, but Simmons resisted and both men were shot during the struggle, police said.

Montrice Gibson

Once in custody, the Gibsons and Santiago all blamed each other, according to court documents.

Montrice Gibson, 27, maintains it was his "evil sister" who concocted the entire plan, according to his defense attorney, Farley Holt.

Santiago, 20, suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his upper left shoulder during the struggle, according to state police, and tossed the gun used to kill Simmons out the car window as the trio drove back to York City afterward.

The gun has not been found, police said.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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