PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A jury has found 15-year-old Tevin Benjamin guilty of capital murder. The Moss Point teen was charged in the death of Michael David Porter of Hattiesburg. Porter was shot to death outside a Moss Point gas station in 2008 after stopping to ask for directions to his grandson's football game.
In closing arguments, Benjamin's defense lawyer, Dustin Thomas, told the jury, "everything they're [the state] going to try to convince you of is guesswork."
Thomas reminded the jury that one of the prosecution's key witnesses testified he did not see Benjamin shoot Porter. He also said there were a lot of gaps in the testimony from Alonzo Kelly, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the crime. Thomas again painted Kelly as a young man who cut a deal to save himself.
The defense also attacked testimony from Porter's widow. Linda Porter tearfully recounted the night her husband was shot to death.
In his closing, Thomas focused on Mrs. Porter's description to police that her husband's attackers appeared to be in their early 20s. Thomas showed the mug shots of the teens and pointed out that only Kelly, 17 at the time, could have appeared that old. Thomas said the defendant, who's just 15 now, could not have been mistaken for a man in his 20s.
District Attorney Tony Lawrence told the jury, "Don't fall prey to the defense tactics."
Lawrence countered the defense attack on Linda Porter's testimony saying, "Mrs. Porter and Alonzo Kelly's stories are the same, and they don't know each other. Three boys were at the store that night and three boys committed the crime."
Lawrence also told the jury to remember the witnesses.
"Every witness confirms that three black young males participated in the crime and one of them is Tevin Benjamin."
Lawrence said Benjamin "participated in the robbery. And robbery and murder equal capital murder."
Patrice Clark has been in the courtroom following the trial all week. She'll have an interview with the victim's widow, Linda Porter, later today on WLOX News and WLOX.com.