On the night he died last summer, Michael D. Jackson was shot by two different men at a northwest Roanoke convenience mart.
The shooters shared the same firearm, passing it between them during a brawl with Jackson, which started inside the LT Store on Burrell Street about midnight on June 7, 2018, and then spilled out into the parking lot.
The question of which man actually caused the fatal injury to 42-year-old Jackson was resolved in court this week through a jury trial that stretched into the late hours of Tuesday.
At its close, Shannon Lewis Walker, 30, was found guilty of second-degree murder in Jackson’s death, plus using a firearm to commit that crime.
Jurors got the case about 6 p.m. on the trial’s second day, then pressed on, deliberating for about four hours before returning his guilty verdicts.
They took another hour to decide that Walker should serve 15 years in prison: 12 for the killing and three more in mandatory minimum time on the gun charge. He is due to be sentenced by a judge Nov. 4.
This comes after a shift in the case back in April, when the second defendant, Derrell Jamar Jones, 29, abruptly pleaded no contest to malicious wounding and a gun charge. Through his plea, prosecutors — who said in court that Jones “is not guilty of the homicide” — agreed they wouldn’t seek more than a 10-year term when he’s sentenced next month.
Both Walker and Jones initially were charged with first-degree murder, which could have brought them each 20 years to life in prison.
As Walker’s trial began Monday, attorneys and witnesses described the incident, aided by the footage from nine of the LT’s security cameras, seven inside and two external.
The night of the attack, Jones was already in the store when Walker entered, armed with a handgun. Later, Jackson arrived with his girlfriend to buy beer, according to assistant prosecutor Joshua Dietz.
Dietz said Jackson and Jones argued. Walker stepped toward the men and waved his gun. Jackson pushed Walker, but a short time later Walker and Jackson stepped close to each other and appeared to embrace. The video showed Jackson, whom the prosecutor said was intoxicated, punch Walker in the head as the embrace ended. Jones, who earlier had taken away Walker’s gun, responded by shooting Jackson in the knee. Jackson went down and began crawling toward the exit.
The conflict moved outside, and Dietz said that’s where Walker used the same gun to strike Jackson with multiple shots, including one that entered his shoulder and traveled to his chest, where it penetrated his lungs and ruptured his aorta, ending his life.
“This was a senseless act of gun violence,” Dietz said as he described the incident to the jury.
Neil Horn, Walker’s defense attorney, said his client “did shoot at Mr. Jackson” but argued that there wasn’t sufficient proof that he fired the fatal bullet. If he did fire it, he more likely acted out of rage than malice, Horn said. In that event, Horn told the jury, the correct verdict would be voluntary manslaughter.
The video had no sound and did not reveal what Jackson and Jones argued about, or a reason for Walker’s involvement. Neither did the testimony.
But Terry Hopson, the store clerk, described the argument as “two guys mouthing off to each other.”
Pearl Thomas, Jackson’s girlfriend, testified she heard Walker say, “I just wanna f--- a n----- up.”
A short time later, Thomas said, she “heard a pop, smelled gun powder and they were on the ground.”
Thomas said she reached her boyfriend while he was on the ground outside the store. He was still breathing. Jackson was not breathing, nor did he have a pulse, a short time later, a medical rescuer testified.
“Is the person who shot Mike Jackson in court today?” Dietz asked Thomas.
“Yes,” she replied as she pointed to Walker. “He’s sitting right there.”