HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - After a few hours of deliberations, a jury found the Henrico man charged in connection to a shooting that injured a five-year-old girl not guilty on all charges.
Derick Walton, Jr. has been facing several charges related to the injuries Ke’Miyah Edwards sustained on April 4, 2019, which a jury found him not guilty of on Friday.
“We have a justice system in the Commonwealth that asks 12 citizens to listen to facts and scenarios that they may never have experienced in their own lives and apply those facts to our laws. Our democracy is based on many principles, and the jury system is one of them. When a now 7-year-old little girl, who suffered a devastating injury, is the victim, the ‘not guilty’ jury verdict might be a bit harder to swallow, but it is the system we have and one we have to respect,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said.
“They put the case on the way they thought was appropriate, we felt it did not meet the standard and therefore the jury agreed with us and found him not guilty. That’s what happened,” Walton’s attorney, Elliott Bender, said.
“Thank you, Jesus, it’s been a long year...The jury showed up for my brother... he was innocent,” Walton’s sister said.
After an hour of deliberating, the jury came out with a clarification question relating to the victims for each of the charges. Another question was asked about a detective’s report during testimony, but that report was not part of the evidence entered in the case. The judge told the jurors to do their best to remember from memory.
During the final day of testimony, the accused took the stand for himself.
The 21-year-old repeatedly testified to his innocence on Friday, saying he did not have a gun that day and was not involved in the shooting.
Walton acknowledges he knew people who lived in the Byron Street home who were running a fraudulent check-cashing scheme and had gone there that day to pick up a check to cash. He added he was involved in the scheme as well. Walton said he tried to cash the $1,800 check at two locations, which proved unsuccessful.
As he and two other people in a green 1995 Jeep Cherokee were headed to a friend’s house, he said they passed the Byron Street home and he told the driver to turn around.
Walton testified he wanted to drop the check off since he wasn’t able to cash it and didn’t want to be accused of stealing it. When they turned the car around Walton said heard shots fired from behind and told the driver to continue driving.
Walton again testified he did not have a gun and was sitting in the front seat of the Jeep.
During his testimony, he also confessed how he lied to police in the days after the shooting. In a statement he provided authorities on April 9, 2019, he said he was nowhere near the shooting on Byron Street but had heard about the shooting and a girl being injured. However, at the time, he believed the girl was injured at a shopping center and that there were two unrelated crime scenes.
Walton also said he lied to the detective and said he was with a friend at the friend’s parole officer’s office. He testified he was afraid authorities would find surveillance video of him trying to cash a fraudulent check.
A .45 Caliber Glock was also shown to Walton who testified it belonged to the friend who was meeting with his parole officer on April 4, 2019. The gun was seized during a traffic stop on April 7, 2019, with three individuals in the car, including Walton’s friend.
During cross-examination, Walton testified he has not always told the truth and tends to lie when he does not want to get in trouble, but added “I swore to tell the truth today.”
The defense also called a man to the stand who lives near the Byron Street home. This man testified about hearing a loud bang on April 4, 2019, while he was outside in his backyard. He recalls seeing a woman run out the front of Byron Street home and then two men run out the back door, one of them hopping a fence on the property. He added he then saw a man come to the back door of the home and start shooting, however, he was not aware of anything going on in front of the house.
MOTIONS TO STRIKE EVIDENCE
Twice during Friday’s proceedings, the defense made motions to strike the Commonwealth’s evidence in the case.
Walton’s defense attorney, Elliott Bender, said the evidence does not support the charges Walton faces. For instance, he said there’s no physical evidence Walton touched a gun or fired any shots. Additionally, he said there was no medical evidence to support Ke’Miyah and the other man were injured from bullets or that they were caused by a shooting.
The Commonwealth argued there was enough evidence for the jury to consider and that testimony from Ke’Miyah’s family members shows the extent of her severe injuries.
The judge denied both of those motions Friday.
During closing arguments which lasted more than two hours, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Toni Randall and Bender argued about the credibility of the witnesses in the case.
Randall reiterated opening statements saying not everyone in the Byron Street home is an angel and added that “perhaps” the actions of what was going on there brought danger to the house. However, she added a five-year-old girl did not deserve to get shot that day.
Witness testimony from the driver of the Jeep Cherokee used on April 4, 2019, was also a focus of Randall’s closing argument. She reminded the jury how he testified to Walton sitting in the back seat of the car, hearing a gunshot go off behind him. She said he has no reason to lie in this case, and came forward to police after his car was seized and Walton was arrested.
She also urged the jury to consider circumstantial evidence in the case, specifically stating it was a gunshot wound that caused injuries to Ke’Miyah.
Randall also argued how Walton changed his story before taking the stand after hearing all the evidence against him.
“He gave you another lie today which he hopes you believe,” she said.
Randall also shared her disgust when she heard Walton choke up on the stand and get emotional saying he would not hurt a child.
“He’s crying for himself because he got caught,” she added.
The Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney urged the jury to look at the cell phone logs which she says “seals the fate,” showing Walton was at the home on Byron Street at the time of the shooting.
During Bender’s closing arguments he urged the jury to decide what evidence and testimony is relevant and what is not. He said there is no evidence that connects Walton to the gun and does not put it in his hands.
Real science is what Bender told the jury to base their findings on, specifically cartridge cases at the crime scene.
During testimony jurors learned three guns were seized from the home on Byron Street; a Titan .25 Caliber, Llama .45 Caliber, and a 9mm Taurus Brazil. Cartridge casings and bullets from those firearms were found around the property at the home, including in the backyard.
Cartridge casings from a .45 Caliber Glock, which was seized during a traffic stop of the Jeep Cherokee, were collected from the street in front of the home. Two bullets were also collected from the siding of the home and inside a car but could not be excluded coming from the Glock, however could be ruled out from the Llama .45 Caliber.
Meanwhile, the defense went after the credibility of the driver of the Jeep Cherokee on April 4, 2019. Bender said that man has bias and motive in this case, noting he currently faces numerous charges for DUI, reckless driving and fraud.
Bender said the Commonwealth asked the jury to speculate, but said there’s no evidence to support Walton had a gun and the alleged bullets that hit Ke’Miyah and another man were never found or collected.
Wrapping up his argument, Bender said, “Don’t allow an innocent person to be convicted.”
Walton has been found not guilty on all of the following charges:
- Aggravated malicious wounding: Carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison
- Malicious wounding: Carries a sentence of 5-20 years in prison
- Shooting into an occupied dwelling: Carries a sentence of 1-10 years in prison
- Shooting from a vehicle: Carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison
- Use of a firearm during the commission of a felony: Carries a sentence of 3 years
- Subsequent use of a firearm during the commission of a felony: Carries a sentence of 5 years
Walton also faces another trial later this month in the shooting death of 1-year-old Jaidah morris.
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