BY MIKE FUHRMAN

Kevin Turner’s fate is now in the hands of an Iredell County Superior Court jury.

The panel of 10 women and two men began deliberating late Friday morning after they heard closing arguments and Judge Greg Horne instructed them on the applicable law in the case. The jury will resume its work Monday morning after failing to reach a unanimous verdict during five hours of deliberations on Friday. 

Kevin Turner

Turner, 29, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in connection with a shooting that claimed the life of Freeman Jacobi Wells in January of 2018. If convicted, Turner faces life in prison.

Defense attorney John Basinger argued in his closing argument on Friday morning that the prosecution had failed to provide credible evidence that Turner was present at the scene of the shooting or that he ever had a gun in his possession.

“There is no worse crime than the punishment of an innocent man,” Basinger told the jury before asking them to acquit his client.

The only witness to testify that Turner was at the scene of the crime was a co-defendant who told the jury that he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting. That witness, Antown Taylor, admitted his own involvement to Statesville police 10 months after the shooting and implicated Turner because he was desperate and “would do anything to get out of jail,” Basinger added.

Assistant District Attorney Mikko Red Arrow offered a much different analysis of the evidence in his closing argument. He called 19 witnesses and introduced more than 200 exhibits over seven days in an effort to convince the jury that Turner acted in concert with a group of co-defendants to kill Wells in retribution for an earlier incident in which one of the co-defendants, Rick Chambers, was shot. Chambers believed that Wells was the man who shot him at a house party in November of 2017, according to trial testimony.

In the early morning hours of January 6, 2018, the prosecutor argued, the group decided to get “payback” for that shooting. “They went hunting,” Red Arrow told the jury.

According to witness testimony, Turner and several other men left a birthday party on Rita Avenue in three vehicles. Once they arrived at 524 Hickory Avenue, they exited their vehicles and “everybody” started shooting at the house, Taylor told the jury.

More than 70 rounds were fired at the home, according to Statesville police. One of the rounds struck Wells, 30, in the head, causing a brain injury that claimed his life later that day.

“This was an execution, and it is a miracle it did not turn into a mass murder,” Red Arrow told the jury.

Six other people, including two children, were in Wells’ home at the time of the shooting. The attempted murder charges stem from their presence when the shooting occurred.

In addition to Taylor’s testimony identifying Turner as one of the shooters, another witness testified that Turner had arranged to borrow a Chevy Trailblazer used in the crime. Afterward, Turner took possession of a High Point 9 mm firearm that Taylor used in the shooting, Taylor testified.

Under the legal theory of acting in concert, the jury can find Turner guilty of first-degree murder if it determines he actively participated, along with others, in the commission of a felony — shooting into an occupied dwelling — and that felony resulted in Wells’ death. 

A total of 12 people face murder charges as a result of the SPD investigation.

Much of the trial testimony focused on the activity of co-defendant Enrico Heggins, who was in possession of a mini Draco firearm when he was arrested in Mocksville while leaving a motel six days after Wells’ murder. A forensic analyst testified that at least 25 rounds from that weapon were fired into the house, including the bullet that hit Wells in the head.

Calling the shooting a “despicable” crime, the prosecutor told the jury that he had met the burden of proving Turner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Toni Watts has lost a son. You are not supposed to bury your child,” Red Arrow argued. “We are talking about responsibility. A man is dead. And he died bad.”


Related

DAY 1: Murder trial begins in shooting death of Statesville man; prosecutor describes crime scene as ‘war zone’ | Iredell Free News

DAY 2: Shooting victim’s mother testifies during second day of murder trial in Iredell County Superior Court | Iredell Free News

DAY 3: Prosecution witness details actions of co-defendant, associates in Turner murder trial | Iredell Free News

DAY 4: Prosecution witness: Defendant was part of group that opened fire on murder victim’s home | Iredell Free News

DAY 5: Prosecution witness set to provide evidence of motive in Turner murder trial | Iredell Free News

DAY 6: Prosecution witness: Group of men went looking for murder victim on morning he was fatally wounded | Iredell Free News

DAY 7: Closing arguments scheduled for Friday in Turner murder trial | Iredell Free News

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