All three men on trial for killing 8-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton were found guilty Wednesday afternoon.
The jury spent two hours deliberating on Tuesday night and began again Wednesday morning. When the judge read their verdict in the courtroom just before 1 p.m., defendants Dondre Davis, Stephen Cortez Harper and Duong Dai Nguyen showed no reaction.
A cousin of Paris, LaShawn Crawford, began to sob.
The three men were convicted of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors have said the trio was among a group of four who were angry with a rival gang member nicknamed “Monster.” They drove to 771 Preston Ave. S in St. Petersburg and shot 56 rounds from two assault rifles into the house. But instead of hitting Monster, one bullet hit and killed 8-year-old Paris, who had gone to bed for the night.
None of the three men on trial testified in the trial, but defense attorneys argued their cases. Davis’ attorney, Edward Panzica, said fingerprints tying Davis to the car used in the drive-by shooting could have been placed there at a different time, because the car was used communally in the neighborhood. He and Michael O’Haire, attorney for Nguyen, both attacked the credibility of one of the state’s key witnesses against them, Mario Lewis Walls, and O’Haire added that there is no fingerprint evidence against his client. Harper’s attorney, Keith Hammond, said that even according to the state’s evidence, Harper did not shoot a gun, so a manslaughter or third-degree murder verdict would be more appropriate than first-degree murder.
The state is not seeking the death penalty, so the only possible sentence for anyone convicted of first-degree murder would be life in prison without the possibility of parole.
St. Petersburg Times