A 19-year-old Berkeley, Missouri, man has been found not guilty of second-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and attempted robbery after 90 minutes of deliberation by a jury in St. Louis. The charges stemmed from the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old in January 2016.
A prosecutor from Jefferson Country tried the case because there was a conflict of interest with the circuit attorney's office in St. Louis. The defendant was once represented by a public defender who was recently hired as the circuit attorney's top assistant.
According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a witness testified that the 19-year-old man shot the 17-year-old as he tried to run away from an SUV sitting near a bank parking lot. The 17-year-old was fatally shot in the back and collapsed on a sidewalk. According to authorities, the defendant was trying to rob the victim of a handgun. A gun was found on the victim's body. A Facebook video was admitted as evidence in the case, showing the defendant, the victim and the witness all in an SUV, rapping and singing.
The defendant's attorney told the jury that the witness' claims and the video did not prove her client's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. During an interview, she said the witness had a credibility problem and that the case for the state was weak.
The jury did not hear about another felony case the defendant had pending against him. According to prosecutors in that case, the man was driving a vehicle on Nov. 29, 2015, that crashed and killed his passenger, a teenage girl. He allegedly ran from the crash site.
Some of the harshest penalties arise from convictions on violent crimes. However, just because someone is tried on charges of murder, robbery, assault and more does not mean that a guilty verdict will be the end result. An experienced attorney can help you develop a strong defense, proving to the jury that reasonable doubt exists.