A Fulton County jury found Devonni Manuel “Devo” Benton guilty of murder and two counts of aggravated assault Saturday in the September shooting that killed Spelman College sophomore Jasmine Lynn.
Benton, 21, was sentenced to a life sentence plus 25 years for the random killing along with a weapons possession charge. In Georgia, a person must serve at least 25 years for a first life conviction before being eligible for parole.
The jury deliberated five hours Saturday, stopping for an hour lunch before returning the verdict at 3:35 p.m. This followed about nine hours of deliberation Friday.
Witnesses said Benton fired a gun into a crowd on Clark Atlanta University’s campus in the early hours of Sept. 3.
Lynn, witnesses said, was shot in the chest as she attempted to break up a fight outside one of the university’s dorms.
The 19-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., was the first in her family to attend college. She died with a 3.8 grade-point average.
The three-day trial came to a close Friday when jurors heard final arguments calling for them to either convict Benton, or “give him justice,” as defense attorney Jackie Patterson urged, declaring his client innocent.
Benton has 30 days to appeal the decision, Patterson told the AJC. “I believe he will,” the defense attorney said.
As the verdicts were read, gasps and sighs could be heard throughout the courtroom. Lynn’s mother, Constance Franklin, dabbed tears from her face and members of Benton’s family sobbed uncontrollably in the back of the courtroom.
Sheila Kitchens, Benton’s aunt, was led from the courtroom as Fulton Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. addressed the defendant.
“This is absolutely irreprehensible to fire a firearm in the direction of a crowd,” Bedford said. “This is totally a senseless loss of life.”
Bedford said the impact goes far beyond just Benton and Lynn, but to the families of both individuals as well.
“This will not bring her back,” he said to court room. “This is a wound that will never be healed.”
Read more here.