"I don't have it in me yet," she said of forgiveness. "It's been three years. I'm angry, and I'm hurt. His birthday is May 22, and he would've been 20. I don't work on his birthday. I don't celebrate holidays. My life was full, and content. A piece of my puzzle is missing."

At Taylor's sentencing in May, Gray clutched a scrapbook of pictures and mementos including clippings of her son's hair. She read a letter she had written in her son's voice, as if he was addressing his infant son. "I wanted to be in the big life, in a gang," she wrote, making up his words. "Well, it put me here, eight feet underground."

Though police say Gray's admission that Burks confessed to killing Tywonde' was key to closing that case, Gray shakes off such a claim. "It was an allegation," she said of her son's involvement.

In fact, She believes the only appropriate punishment for her son's killer is death. "The justice system needs to start making example out of some of them. If you deliberately kill someone, you need to be killed yourself," she said.

Meanwhile, the mother of Tywonde' Jones is pleased with the swift retribution on the street.

When a police detective told Monica Jones in March 2008 that the suspect in the stabbing was dead, she said, "I was happy. … All I could think was, 'Thank God.'"

The startled officer responded, "Miss Jones, you don't mean that." "I said, 'Yes I do. Yes I do. I need to tell him thank you, whoever it is.'"

But like Burks' mother, Jones too struggled to keep it together. She said she had a nervous breakdown, and was sent away to rural Georgia to rest. She stayed with a relative for a year and saw a psychiatrist. She breathed in the country air, took in the slower pace of life, where nights weren't punctuated by sirens and gunshots, where she said boys didn't walk around with their pants slung low.

Since returning to Baltimore, Jones said, she still battles fits of depression. She said she never knew that someone had been arrested in the killing of her son's killer. She heard the name, and she gazed off into the distance and cracked a slight smile.

Yeah, she knew Kenny Taylor, she said. He lived four doors up from her, and used to hang out at her house.

"I tell you what," Jones said. "I'm gonna get Kenny's information. I'm gonna take care of him while he's there," she said. "I'll send him some money, so he can be all right while he in jail. Because he did me a favor. I'm grateful."

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton



Timeline



Nov. 29, 2007: Tywonde' Jones is stabbed to death in the 5000 block of Cordelia Ave.

March 11, 2008: In a double shooting, Tavon Burks is killed and Tyrone Walker is wounded in the 2500 block of Edgecombe Circle.

Sept. 23, 2008: Police and prosecutors close the investigation into Tywonde' Jones' death, listing Tavon Burks as the killer.

Dec. 27, 2008: Leroy "Kenny" Taylor is charged with killing Tavon Burks.

Feb. 24, 2011: Taylor's murder trial begins in Baltimore Circuit Court. Walker testifies that Taylor shot him and Burks.

March 8, 2011: Taylor is convicted by a jury on charges of murder and attempted murder.

May 24, 2011: Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin P. Welch sentences Taylor to life plus 50 years in prison. Taylor files an appeal.