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Jury finds Petersburg man guilty in fatal Chesterfield Towne Center shooting

Shooting in food court at Chesterfield Towne Center.
Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 18:27:54-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A jury of 12 found a Petersburg man guilty for shooting and killing a Chesterfield Towne Center shopper last year.

William Ezell Taylor Jr, 24, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, child neglect and several gun charges in Chesterfield Circuit Court on Friday.

The shooting took place on June 23, 2020 in the mall’s food court. Video from the shooting showed a fight between two men leading up to the shooting.

The victim, Kimani O. Donovan, 22, died on July 5 at the hospital.

Prosecutors said the altercation stemmed from a prior conversation Taylor had with the victim regarding the mother of the defendant’s son. Taylor was 23 at the time of the shooting.

Taylor testified he acted in self-defense and didn’t intend to kill the victim, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Taylor’s father told CBS 6 after the verdict that they send love and prayers to the victim’s family. Donovan's family members said "no comment."

The defendant's attorney, Ed Riley, said his client has no prior record and they may appeal the verdict.

"We are a little disappointed but with manslaughter we felt like we had a good defense in self-defense," Riley explained. "It’s really difficult for everybody involved. These cases are never easy. I know William‘s family is really suffering at the moment and so are the Donovan's. William has expressed his sorrow and apologize for what happened that day."

The jury found the defendant not guilty of a firearms charge and the judge acquitted Taylor of use of a firearm resulting in a malicious wounding charge.

Dozens of shoppers witnessed the shooting including Taylor’s two-year-old son, according to prosecutors.

The jury began deliberations on Thursday afternoon and rendered a verdict on Friday afternoon. Several family members of both the victim and defendant filled the courtroom.

Chesterfield Circuit Court Judge Steven McCallum will sentence Taylor on November 29 at 1 p.m.