Syracuse murder accomplice gets 20 to life as lawyer claims a $40,000 bounty on client’s head

Sharrief Powell looks toward the family of murder victim Ptolemy Droz in court as he’s sentenced on Nov. 28, 2022.

Syracuse, NY — The getaway driver in a fatal shooting from December 2020 apologized to the victim’s family Monday, while his lawyer expressed concern over an alleged $40,000 bounty placed on his client’s head.

Sharrief Powell, 25, was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for his role in the death of Ptolemy Droz on Syracuse’s South Side.

Powell has maintained that someone opened fire on his vehicle, as well, and that he did not have a gun in the shootout that led to Droz’s death.

But Powell had already pleaded guilty to a pair of illegal weapons cases at the time of Droz’s death. He was free on bail at the time of the murder. All told, he faced up to 70 years to life in prison had he been convicted at trial of everything.

So instead, he took the 20-year-to-life offer from state Supreme Court Justice Gordon Cuffy, which includes sentences for all of his crimes.

Droz’s anguished sister, E’tavia Droz, described a family in turmoil after her brother’s murder. “We’re all just messed up,” she said in court.

But she also offered a peculiar omen: that her ancestors would take revenge on Powell.

In response, defense lawyer Patrick Hennessy asserted that he’d found evidence that a $40,000 bounty had been placed on his client’s head following the murder.

“Someone was tasked with getting revenge for the family,” Hennessy said.

Powell picked up another gun charge between Droz’s death and his arrest weeks later. Hennessy said that, while his client shouldn’t have had a gun, he felt he needed protection after hearing about a threat on his life.

For his part, the judge noted that E’tavia Droz had warned only of “ancestral revenge,” and that he would “take her at her word.”

Powell turned to the family in court to offer an apology, while maintaining that he had been shot at and hadn’t fired a weapon of his own that day.

“My most sincere apologies and condolences to y’all,” Powell said. “You all know I was good friends with (Powell’s brother) Dashaun. I would never do anything to hurt you all’s family… that was never my intention that night.”

Prosecutor Michael Whalen has said that the investigation continues into who might have fired the fatal bullets that day from Powell’s vehicle.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit syracuse.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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