A jury of six men and six women are now deliberating in the case accusing Kwan Kearney of shooting at two Spingarn High School students, killing one of them.
Jurors were dismissed to deliberate at 3:35 Thursday afternoon. If they do not reach a verdict today, they will be back tomorrow to continue deliberations.
Kearney, 20, did not take the stand to defend himself against the accusation that on Nov. 8, 2010 he, Larnell Allen, and a 15-year-old were involved in killing Joseph Alonzo Sharps Jr. and seriously wounding De’Onte Bilbro.
In closing arguments, Kearney’s defense attorney, Gene Johnson, told jurors that Kearney was not guilty in the attacks.
“It was Allen who shot Mr. Bilbro and killed Mr. Sharps,” Johnson said.
Allen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and assault with intent to kill in connection with the case. The minimum sentence for those charges is 85 years, Prosecutor David Saybolt said. In return for his testimony in Kearney’s case, in which Allen stated that Kearney shot at Bilbro and Sharps and that he pulled his weapon and fired, too, to “back up” Kearney, prosecutors have agreed to ask the sentencing judge to be lenient with him.
“Two bullets. Two guns. Two shooters. Larnell Allen and Kwan Kearney,” Saybolt said in closing arguments. “Hold [Kearney] accountable,” he told jurors.
But Johnson argued that jurors don’t know that there were two shooters. Two of the government’s witnesses, Allen and the then-fifeteen-year-old, are “criminals” with limited credibility, Johnson said. Of the other eyewitness to the shooting, Bilbro himself, Johnson said his story gave no weight to the government’s theory that both Kearney and Allen shot weapons that night.
Bilbro testified that “the tall one,” or Kearney, fired first, striking him in the leg. Johnson said the bullet that struck Bilbro was known to have been fired from Allen’s gun. Lacking this basic truth, Johnson called into question whether Bilbro’s recollection of what happened was accurate at all.
Saybolt countered that Johnson’s facts were incorrect. The bullet that struck Bilbro was never found, he said. A bullet fired from Allen’s gun though is known to have struck Sharps’ leg, he said.