RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A jury found Lemar McDaniel Jr. guilty of second degree murder, use of a firearm to commit murder and guilty of concealing a dead body after five hours of deliberation Wednesday.
McDaniel was on trial in Richmond since Monday for the 2018 murder of 22-year-old Devin Harrison, a woman he was reportedly dating. Harrison’s body was found in a trash can behind her home after her father told police he hadn’t seen her in 24 hours.
Members of the jury, who returned with a guilty verdict of second-degree murder and not the original charge of first-degree murder, recommended 44 years in prison for McDaniel.
“Nothing can bring Devin back but if we were going to provide justice to her and her family, this was the right outcome,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Albert Flores.
During closing arguments on Wednesday, the prosecution said McDaniel killed Harrison on July 30, 2018, one day before she was due in court to testify against McDaniel for pending domestic assault charges. McDaniel showed up to court the next day but Harrison did not.
They said McDaniel planned to murder Harrison in order to prevent her from testifying against him.
Harrison’s parents testified that McDaniel was acting “nonchalant” when they began looking for her after she didn’t appear in court to testify against McDaniel in 2018.
The Commonwealth showed the jury surveillance photos of Harrison and McDaniel on July 30, 2018. Prosecutors then shared photos of Harrison’s body in a city trash can with the same shirt on from July 30, 2018.
The prosecution argued that McDaniel shot Harrison in the head with Harrison’s gun, dragged her out of the house, put her body in the trash can and then moved it behind her Richmond home. Her blood was found on McDaniel’s shoes, the Commonwealth told the jury.
McDaniel’s defense claimed there was not enough evidence to convict him, pointing out that the murder weapon was never found, there were no witnesses and no confession.
McDaniel’s uncle, AR McDaniel, agreed. “For such harsh time, I feel like much more should have been shown.”
“I just think he’s innocent,” said Kedijah Hargrove, McDaniel’s sister. “I know hes innocent cause that’s my brother.”
But ultimately, the jury found him guilty.
Harrison’s family told 8News the verdict brings them some closure.
A pre-sentence investigation hearing has been set for Dec. 19 at 2 p.m.
“Devin will truly, truly, truly be missed,” said Jazmyne Harvey, Harrison’s cousin. “We can never get her back no matter guilty, whether he has life in jail, two days in jail.
“It definitely offers closure for my family. I know my cousin can rest well knowing she has justice.”