The verdict is in on the fifth day of the Shakur Franklin murder trial for two of the four men who were accused of his murder. Police say 16-year-old Franklin was shot in a drive-by shooting at a party in July of 2015.
Keshawn McLaurin has been found guilty of all charges, including first-degree murder; while Demond Mitchell was found not guilty on all charges.
Yesterday, two of the men, Jahaun Jones and Stephen Russell, were released after the only witness able to tie them to the incident failed to show for his subpoenaed court appearance. Their attorneys motioned for a Judgement of Acquittal and Judge William Cunningham ruled in their favor that there wasn’t sufficient enough evidence to continue their cases. The two men, who had already spent two years in jail awaiting trial, were released from any liability on their charges.
Today’s verdict was for the remaining two said to be involved in the incident, Demond Mitchell and Keshawn McLaurin, who were charged with homicide, aggravated assault, and conspiracy.
After deliberating for hours, around 3:15, the jury re-entered the courtroom to ask Judge William Cunningham two questions. First, ‘what is the difference between first and third-degree murder?’ To which, the judge explained the primary difference is that in first-degree murder, they have to prove the defendant had the intent to kill.
The second question the jury asked the judge was, ‘what if we can’t agree on a defendant or charge?’
Throughout the four days of calling reluctant witnesses and examining evidence, defense attorneys stated that it was a case of misidentification. This, while District Attorney Jack Daneri said all four took part in the drive-by shooting. The DA referenced evidence and witness statements putting the defendants in Keshawn McLaurin’s SUV that night. Some of those statements recanted when witnesses took the stand.