15-year-old sentenced to life in prison

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - By Patrice Clark – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX)-  Fifteen-year-old Tevin Benjamin is headed to prison for the rest of his life. Jurors deliberated for four hours before reaching a guilty verdict in his capital murder trial.

The Moss Point teenager is convicted of robbing and killing Michael David Porter in 2008. The Hattiesburg man had stopped at a Moss Point gas station for direction to his grandson's football game when he was shot and killed.

When the guilty verdict was read Friday, you could hear crying throughout the courtroom. Tevin Benjamin's family was crying, members of the jury, and of course the family of Michael David Porter.

"I just had to try to remember to breathe and I had to think, 'Did I hear it right?'" Michael's widow, Linda Porter said.

Judge Dale Harkey sentenced the 15-year-old to life in prison. Two other teens, Darwin Wells and Terry Hye have already been convicted for the murder. Widow Linda Porter said she feels some relief in knowing that her husband's final killer has been found guilty.

"Pascagoula and Moss Point now have three less criminals to inflict on a family what I had to go through the last two years," Porter said.

For two days, the prosecution called several witness, including one of Tevin Benjamin's close friends, Alonzo Kelly. Kelly testified he saw Benjamin, Wells and Hye walk to the Conoco gas station that night with the intention to rob someone.

"We live by the rules of the courtroom, and we put in the evidence that allowed coming in, but there is no doubt in my mind the jury made the right decision."

The defense offered no witnesses on Benjamin's behalf; they did argue that the prosecution's evidence was weak. Lawyers kept reminding the jury that no one can prove they actually saw Benjamin attack Porter that night.

Benjamin's family chose not to speak on camera about the verdict, but his lawyers said that they're considering appealing the decision.

"Hopefully we can go on and heal," Michael's mother, Beverly Porter said.

Michael Porter's mom said she's also pleased with the verdict, but she admits that healing from her son's death will not be easy.

"He always helped everybody. If those kids wanted money or anything or if they would have been kind to him, they would have given him anything he wanted."

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