Moss Point teen's attorney: 'This case was about a tragedy'

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Tevin Benjamin's attorney is speaking out a day after his client was found not guilty in a capital murder retrial.

Benjamin spent the last five years behind bars after being convicted of that charge in connection with the shooting death of Michael David Porter, who died at a Moss Point gas station in 2008.

The state supreme court ordered a retrial after finding out Benjamin's rights had been violated when he was interviewed by police. A Lafayette County jury found him not guilty Thursday.

His attorney, Dustin Thomas, told WLOX News Friday he's surprised by the misinformation being spread about the case.

"First, the statement Tevin gave police, that was later thrown out, was not in anyway a confession, and he has maintained his innocence of the crime he was charged with since day one," Thomas said in a statement to WLOX News.

"Tevin was not the shooter in this case and that is undisputed. Darwin Wells shot and killed Michael David Porter and he confessed to that crime in the beginning. He was tried for capital murder and a Jackson County jury found Wells guilty of deliberate design murder finding that a capital murder did not take place."

Thomas said during the trial, no one testified they saw Tevin Benjamin in the parking lot of the Conoco Station and no one testified that they saw him commit any crime.

Thomas also said he marveled at "the swiftness in which comments on this case go down the road of race."

"I have read comment after comment about this. One even said that, 'We all know Lafayette County is almost all black.'"

Thomas said that's not true. And he said the jury was made up of mostly white jurors: Two blacks and 10 whites/8 women and four men.

"We simply believe they followed the instructions of the court and the evidence presented and came back with the only verdict they could, which was Not Guilty."

Thomas said Tevin Benjamin is starting his life over. One of the first things he had to do was get new clothes. The last time he wore anything that wasn't a prison uniform, he was 14 years old.

"Tevin is home with is family, but we recognize Mr. Porter will not be again and our hearts and sympathy go out to them for their tragic loss. Regardless of what anyone thinks, this case was about a tragedy."

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