Family of late Shaker student tries to make peace with justice system

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An Albany County family is opening up about how they’ve been mourning the loss of a loved one and making peace with the justice system.

Destiny Greene, 15, was killed in what police called a social media transaction that ended in gunfire near Wilbur Street on May 24, 2021. Police said she was not the intended target and was in the wrong place at the wrong time, hit by gunfire while inside a car.

Branden Rivera, 20 was indicted on murder charges earlier this year, but has now pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted murder. Greene’s family said the Albany County D.A.’s Office was respectful and handled the case with care, but they still feel that any deal will never feel good enough.

NewsChannel 13 reached out to the D.A.’s office for comment about the plea deal. A spokesperson said they will not be commenting right now.

Rivera will be sentenced on January 19. He faces up to 25 years in prison.

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“At the end of the day, we have to go on, but how do we go on with so many unanswered questions,” said Fidelia Rodriguez, Destiny’s grandmother.

NewsChannel 13 spoke to Rodriguez and Destiny’s mother, Tareen Lynch, who did not go on camera, saying it’s still too painful. They said photos and videos help remind them of the teen’s funny, quirky personality. However, they’re also a reminder of all the things Destiny will never get to do.

“I don’t have any more stories, so I have to go backwards. I have no forward stories to tell, and that’s not fair. That’s just not fair,” said Rodriguez.

The family says the biggest hurdle to healing is the pending court case against her killer who will soon be sentenced for attempted murder.

“He didn’t attempt. He did it,” Rodriguez said with frustration, a sentiment Lynch echoed as well.

Legally, it may have been difficult to get a conviction on murder. Destiny was a passenger in a car, but police said she was not the intended target. It’s small comfort to her family.

“He gets to live his life, he gets to start a family if he needs to, start a job, live a life… the life that was taken from my granddaughter,” Rodriguez said.

Seeing photos of someone going to prom, graduating, or celebrating a birthday, can bring the family right back to their new reality, said Lynch.

“She didn’t get to go to her senior prom, she didn’t get to graduate from high school. She didn’t get to start college. She didn’t get to get married and have a family and travel. All of these things were taken from her from one selfless act. One act that made absolutely no sense to my family. They took her life for nothing – and that’s the worst part,” said Destiny’s grandmother.

The home of Rodriguez is filled with pictures of her granddaughter.

“She was mischievous, she was funny, she was quirky. She was the baby and we all loved her so much,” she said with a smile.

They were proud of Destiny’s ambition to become an esthetician and eventually a dermatologist. Now the family wants other students to reach their goals in her memory, with the My Destiny Scholarship Foundation. The goal is to give two $500 scholarships to two students of esthetics who embody Destiny’s spirit. If Destiny can help those students achieve their goals, it will be some comfort to her family.

Lynch shared a statement with NewsChannel 13 about her grief and her thoughts on the case:

“First I would like to start by thanking Det. Verhagen, Det. Fargion, ADA Lydon, Crime Victims Advocate Whitfield (and a host of others that helped with the case) for their professionalism and caring hearts. Although I am not satisfied with the ending results of my daughter Destiny A’Niyah Greene’s case I am satisfied with the way the case itself was handled. Whenever I called, my questions we answered to the best of their ability without compromising the case. I do understand that they were following the laws but, the laws are very unfair to the victims, their families and friends. It seems as if the perpetrator(s) have more rights and that needs to change immediately! Every day my heart breaks over and over. I can start my day off in a good mood, almost like my past normal before the loss of my child but, then I will see a picture of someone graduating, prom, birthdays, or just selfies and then I’m back to my reality. My Destiny is gone and I would never see these things ever again. Lately I find myself looking at her pictures, reminiscing about the corky things she did/said and watching her videos more just so I can hear her voice and once again my heart is broken all over again. May 24 is every day for me. So I started the My Destiny Scholarship Foundation to help me by helping others. I’m not sure how or if it would help with the gun violence that’s going on in the world today but, it brings me peace. We will give out two $500 scholarships to deserving recipients who are enrolled into school that shows the same characteristics as Destiny. It brings me joy to know that the recipient will forever be able to say Destiny helped them achieve their goal. That thought alone definitely helps me through my healing process. When I think about that it makes me smile. My Destiny shall live forever.

-A Brokenhearted Mother”