Bolton was charged with first-degree murder; second-degree murder is a lesser charge. The jury also found Bolton guilty of three firearm charges.
The jury deliberated for three days before delivering the verdict around 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Fletcher’s sister, Rachel Young, was in the courtroom while the verdict was being read. She said the acquittal on the first-degree murder charge made her heart skip a beat.
“I almost passed out. I was thinking that this could not happen,” Young said. “I am very happy with the verdict.”
At trial, prosecutors argued that a ritual of “sex play” led to the dispute that left Fletcher dead.
One witness testified that when Bolton arrived at a cookout being held in the 3300 block of D Street Southeast, he kissed Fletcher on the forehead as if he was a woman. Fletcher initially acted standoffish towards the gesture, then Bolton said, “Why you all up in your feelings? As much as you play with me like that?”
Fletcher then said, “You’re right,” and the two began to touch each other’s buttocks and genital area, the witness testified.
The witness then went to the front yard, and minutes later Fletcher came around the side of the house with his shirt off, yelling, “Baby John, I’m on D Street. If you wanna see me, I’m on D Street.”
Fletcher then walked towards 34th Street Southeast. Bolton, meanwhile, hopped the neighbor’s fence, retrieved a gun, put it in his waistband, and then left the neighbor’s yard through a back alley, the witness said.
Moments later, the witness saw Bolton and Fletcher about 300 feet away face-to-face near the intersection of D Street and 34th Street. She then testified that she heard a gunshot and saw a flash.
An autopsy later revealed that Fletcher died from a single gun shot wound to his abdomen, which pierced his aorta.
The defense, however, argued that Fletcher was drunk and carrying a knife, and that he threatened Bolton when they came face-to-face at the intersection.
“Mr. Fletcher was not the kind of person who would listen to anyone when he was using alcohol or drugs,” defense attorney Chris Roberts said during closing arguments. “This is someone who could get out of control.”
One witness testified that Fletcher would pull a knife so often that he needed his own knife if he wanted to spend time with Fletcher.
At the time of his death, Fletcher was on a Most Violent Persons list maintained by MPD, according to a stipulation made at trial. A person is added to the list after being arrested enough times that police believe inclusion on the list is warranted, Roberts told the jury.
Bolton is scheduled to be sentenced April 5.
Sam Pearson contributed to reporting.