A Leon County jury found De'Arius Cannon guilty of attempted manslaughter and improper exhibition of a firearm in the first trial following the deadly mass shooting outside Half Time Liquors.
Cannon, 30, was found not guilty of second-degree murder for the death of DeMario "Ro" Murray, an innocent bystander who was killed during the mass shooting that injured eight others on Oct 29. Jurors also downgraded an attempted murder charge to attempted manslaughter by act and with a firearm.
"I am pleased with the verdict," said State Attorney Jack Campbell after the verdict was delivered Friday at 5 p.m. "I certainly still continue to believe that everyone who shot that night is responsible for the death of ... Mr. Murray."
Campbell said the maximum sentence for the two charges is 16 years in prison. The state will be seeking the maximum sentence, he said.
Cannon’s attorney, Kris Dunn, declined to comment.
The verdict came after Cannon requested an expedited trial last month and more than five hours after closing statements were made by the state and defense Friday morning. Over the deliberation period, jurors had questioned legal phrasing and asked to see video evidence.
Campbell delivered his closing statement first and argued that the state does not need to prove which bullet came from which gun, including the shots that killed Murray.
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"He was part of a team that had a gunfight in the streets of Tallahassee and he needs to be held accountable," Campbell said. "He is responsible for each of the crimes of each of the people."
Campbell said that Cannon was armed with a 9mm handgun because he knew there was the chance of a fight.
"He was as much an active participant in this gunfight as anyone else with the long guns," he said. "You can't have a shootout in front of 1,000 people and avoid the consequences."
Defense says Cannon fired into the air from frustration
Cannon’s attorney Kris Dunn said Cannon shot four rounds only after being shot at, and based on when the shooting started, the evidence and timeline doesn’t support his involvement in the killing of Murray.
"You will have to believe in fairy tales and magic bullets to find my client guilty," he said at the start of his closing statement, adding that while Cannon fired bullets, he did not aim or strike anyone, as he told police.
"They didn't find any of his rounds anywhere ... he certainly didn't hit anyone," Dunn said.
Dunn played videos from Half Time Liquors' security cameras, showing hundreds of people ducking behind cars, and falling over each other as they ran from the gunfire. There were multiple people crawling and some of them turned on their backs and fired handguns.
Cannon got frustrated and shot in the air, Dunn said, contending that he was not a part of a larger conspiracy to carry out a mass shooting.
"Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," he repeated. "For you to return a verdict of guilty, you need ... a conviction that must be stable."
On the charge of second-degree murder, he said the state has not proven that Cannon caused the death of Murray. On the attempted second-degree murder charges, Dunn said his client did not demonstrate a depraved mind with a disregard to human life, because Cannon's overhead shots were in response to gunfire aimed at him.
"I feel like this was a trial run for whenever they find that son-of-a-gun who killed [DeMario Murray]," he said. "That's not fair for Mr. Cannon at all."
Five men and three women were injured in the shooting. Cannon was shot by TPD officers during what was described as a hail of gunfire in which over 70 shots were fired.
Investigators say the shooting stemmed from a feud between neighborhood groups from Gadsden County.
Since Tuesday, several survivors of the shooting testified. Body camera footage of the police officers first on the scene and an interview with Cannon were also presented.
Others arrested in the case include William Thomas, 23, who faces charges of second-degree murder, attempted murder, weapons charges and eight out-of-county warrants. Additionally, Joseph Walker, 24, and Tamylon Williams, 26, are both charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.
Campbell told reporters Friday that the case remains ongoing and that more suspects may be arrested.
"Unfortunately this community continues to see gun violence," he said. "The message that I think everybody needs to understand is that when you shoot people in this community, law enforcement and ... this office is going to aggressively prosecute you because we have to stop this violence."
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Cannon found not guilty of murder charge; guilty of attempted manslaughter