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Jury finds man guilty of killing girl in Richmond park

Posted at 2:42 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 18:56:27-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond City Circuit Court jury has found a Richmond man guilty of second-degree murder and other charges he faced for the 2019 shooting death of a nine-year-old girl.

Jermaine Davis, 23, was charged along with two other men and was accused of being involved in a shootout at Carter Jones Park on Memorial Day 2019 that left Markiyah Dickson dead and injured an 11-year-old boy. Prosecutors called it an act of “unmitigated gun violence”.

Jurors reached their decision after about six-and-a-half hours of deliberations over two days following a two-day trial.

The jury recommended Davis be sentenced to 33 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder (20 years), using a firearm in commission of murder (3 years), malicious wounding (5 years) and using a firearm in commission of malicious wounding (5 years).

Davis will be formally sentenced on February 18, 2021. His lawyer said they intend to appeal.

Davis was charged along with Quinshawn Betts and Jesus Turner. All faced first-degree murder and other charges.

Betts was convicted and sentenced for second-degree murder charges earlier this year and sentenced to 68 years in prison, with all but 22 years suspended.

Turner will go on trial in January 2021.

Sentencing

After the jury announced their verdict, Dickson's parents and Davis spoke to the jurors before they began deliberating on what Davis' sentence should be.

Dickson's mother, Ciara Dickson, told that it has been rough and she goes to sleep crying and wakes up crying. She added that she is scared of leaving her house because she does not know what could happen.

Dickson's father, Mark Whitfield, said it kills him inside because he was supposed to protect her and he has stopped caring about work, bills, and life itself.

He added that his "heart isn't broken, it's gone" and said he would die with the pain that he feels.

When Davis took to the stand, he apologized to both Dickson's family and to the boy that was injured for what happened, but maintained his innocence and said he was not one of the people shooting at gun that day.

Attorneys for both sides then argued for what type of sentence Davis should receive.

Davis' attorney, Leonard McCall, went first and asked the jurors to show Davis leniency. He said that because of mandatory minimums, the earliest Davis could be released would be when he was over 40-years-old.

The prosecutor, Caitlin Kelly, asked jurors to hand down a severe sentence. She said Richmond should be a community where people can go to the park and feel safe, but the three men charged in this case took that feeling from the city and that those responsible need to be held accountable.

Trial and Jury Deliberations

Prosecutors alleged back on Memorial Day 2019, Dickson and the boy were at a cookout at Carter Jones park when the shooting in question happened at the basketball courts.

They said Davis, Betts, and Turner arrived at the basketball court and got into an argument with another man, who had a longstanding beef with Turner’s brother.

That other man, who testified for the prosecution, said he was afraid of what might happen when he saw the men approach, so he went to his bag which was on a nearby bench to retrieve his gun. He said at around the same time he then heard gunshots and turned to shoot back.

Prosecutors said investigators recovered 23 shell cases afterwards. Testimony from a forensic firearm analysis said only one case matched the gun that the man turned over to detectives, while the other 22 were fired from three other guns (the types of two of the guns could be determined). Prosecutors alleged those 22 bullets were shot by Davis, Betts, and Turner at the other man and in the direction of the park where Dickson and the 11-year-old were.

That boy testified during the trial and said he was playing tag when he heard what he though was fireworks. He said someone then told him his arm was bleeding, which is when he realized he’d been shot and what he was hearing was gunshots. He said he turned towards the basketball court and saw one man who was shooting a gun.

Davis took to the stand in his own defense and testified he never possessed or fired a gun that day. He said was still recovering from being shot and had a boot on his right foot and was walking with a crutch on his right side. He said when the shooting started he was trying to get out of the way.

About three hours into their deliberation, jurors sent their one and only note to the judge asking for a definition of reasonable doubt, if they were base their decision solely on the evidence presented by prosecutors, and could they use their own judgment alongside the evidence. The judge told them to refer to their jury instructions.