A jury yesterday convicted two men of third-degree murder in the 2007 shooting death of an innocent bystander who was caught in a cross-fire near a bus-stop poster that blared the words, "Stop Gun Violence."
Abdul Mumeet Allen, 26, a father and business entrepreneur, suffered a fatal shot to the chest.
On their fourth day of deliberations, jurors convicted Kevin July, 27, and James Dukes, 26, of third-degree murder and weapons offenses.
Assistant District Attorney Leon Goodman said after the verdicts that ballistics evidence at the scene suggested that July fired the fatal shot.
During the trial before Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker,the prosecution contended that Dukes, on one side, and July and Kevin Brown, on the other, were firing at one another about 7:55 p.m. July 12, 2007, on Spruce Street near 60th. The prosecution alleged that Allen was shot while July and Brown were firing at Dukes, who was also shot.
Brown, 21, did not face murder charges at the trial. A previous judge had quashed murder and conspiracy charges against him at a pre-trial conference last year. The jury convicted Brown of aggravated assault and weapons offenses in Dukes' shooting, but acquitted him of attempted murder.
July also faced charges in the shooting of Dukes and was convicted yesterday of attempted murder and aggravated assault.
Defense attorneys Joseph Santaguida and W. Fred Harrison Jr., who represented July and Brown, respectively, contended that Dukes had been the aggressor and had fired the first shot. They told jurors that people have the right to act in self-defense when someone else shoots at them.
Goodman said yesterday that it wasn't clear who fired first. He said evidence suggested that Dukes fired at least one shot, and that Brown and July fired several. In his closing argument, he likened the three men to "gangland soldiers."
Dukes' attorney, James Bruno, had contended there was no physical evidence tying his client to a gun. Dukes was charged with murder under the principle of "transfer of intent" - or that he intended to kill Brown or July but his actions resulted in Allen's death.
Allen's sister, Desiree Zakiyyah Talbert, 40, said after yesterday's verdicts: "Based on the facts that the jury had to work with, I think they [jurors] were fair," but she said she was not satisfied that Brown was acquitted of the attempted-murder charge against Dukes.
She added: "I have forgiven all three people, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't be punished."
Sentencing is set for Aug. 6. *