RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A jury has found Jesus Turner guilty of first-degree murder and all other charges associated with the death of Markiya Dickson. The 9-year-old was shot to death at a Memorial Day cookout in 2019.
The jury deliberated for just over an hour before reaching their conclusion.
Two other men, Jermaine Davis and Quinshawn Betts, were both found guilty last year. Betts got 22 years in prison. Davis has yet to be sentenced but a jury recommended he get 33 years. Turner will be sentenced in September.
Jesus Turner had been charged with first-degree murder for the death of Dickson, three counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony and two counts of malicious wounding after a then 11-year-old boy and a man were also caught in the crossfire but survived.
Of the three convicted men, Turner received the most serious conviction. Betts and Davis were both convicted of second-degree murder while Turner was convicted of first-degree murder. Turner’s charge could carry a punishment ranging anywhere from 20 years to life in prison.
A two-day trial began for Turner on Tuesday.
On the first day, jury selection took more than three hours. Opening arguments began at 1 p.m.
Prosecutors argued that 23 shots were fired. “At the conclusion of this trial I ask that you hold the defendant accountable for murdering Markiya,” said Caitlin Kelly, who’s prosecuting the case.
However, the defense argued throughout the trial that there’s no physical evidence that Turner was even there.
“What this entire case comes down to is not any physical evidence, but the credibility, reliability, and consistency of the stories that you are gonna hear,” said Turner’s defense attorney, Christopher Bradshaw.
A key witness for the prosecution, another man who police said was shooting back at Davis, Betts, and Turner, testified again for Turner’s trial. However this time, he refused to answer most questions for more than an hour. The witness previously stated that he shot back in self-defense.
During closing arguments, it was clear that the witness’ silence was frustrating for prosecutors. “It would have been great if [the witness] gave us any background,” Kelly said.”But why is not an element of the crime and it is not something that needs to be proven, and not something that you need to know, to know that this is first degree murder,” she said.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the prosecution brought in witnesses from the shootout, including the now 13-year-old boy who was also shot in the incident. They also brought in investigators, a medical examiner, and forensics, to try and prove that Turner played a role in Markiya’s death.
The defense attorney for Turner, Christopher Bradshaw, contiously argued that the witnesses were not credible, including during closing agruments. He said their stories are inconsistent between the three trials. “This comes down to credibility of the witnesses,” Bradshaw said. “Their story doesn’t make any sense.”
“These people didn’t tell you the truth. They told you what they had to tell you,” he said. Turner’s team didn’t call any witnesses while trying to prove that Turner wasn’t there. However, 8News never heard his alibi discussed during the duration of the trial.
The jury found Turner guilty on all counts around 8 p.m. 8News spoke with Dickson’s parents after, who said they did not think this would be outcome. They plan to keep their daughter’s memory alive by continuing to advocate for an end to gun violence.
They’ve now witnessed three trials where suspects have been convicted — but said no verdict will bring their child back.
“That’s all we gonna do is just keep her name alive. And just make sure this don’t happen to nobody else’s kids. Because nobody else wants to feel this pain. This pain is real. It ain’t even pain, it’s numb,” said her father, Mark Whitfield.