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Jury delivers verdict for Columbus man who shot and killed his disabled stepson

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Daniel Kennedy fatally shooting his disabled stepson in the neck was no accident, a Columbus jury decided Friday.

The jury found Kennedy guilty on all counts charged in the Sept. 2, 2016, death of 25-year-old Shawn Gentle, the son of Kennedy’s wife Judy Kennedy. Those counts include murder, aggravated assault and using a gun to commit a felony.

Judge Gil McBride set Kennedy’s sentencing for 1:30 p.m. May 9. The 46-year-old faces a maximum of life in prison.

Deliberation lasted 45 minutes. The jury’s quick decision Friday afternoon followed Judge McBride’s replacing a juror who became ill after hours of deliberations Thursday evening and Friday morning. She was dismissed after telling the judge she could not bear to return to the jury room.

In total, the old jury deliberated 5½ hours, before an alternate replaced the sick woman.. Alternates do not participate in deliberations unless called to substitute for jurors on the main panel of 12, so the jury had to start its discussion over Friday, after a lunch break.

Jurors returned from lunch at 12:30 p.m., and had a verdict by 1:15 p.m.

Represented by Columbus attorney Stacey Jackson, Kennedy had claimed he accidentally shot Gentle during a heated argument with Gentle’s mother at the family’s 4913 20th Ave. home.

According to trial testimony, the couple had a dispute during which the wife accused Kennedy of masturbating, a serious sin in his strict religion. Prosecutor Robin King said Kennedy also was upset that another woman alleging he fathered her child had sought child support.

Kennedy later gave police varying accounts of how the shooting occurred.

Gentle, who was shot in the neck, presented no threat to Kennedy, King told jurors in closing arguments Thursday.

“He needed help bathing. He needed help feeding,” she said. Showing a photo of Gentle’s bedroom, she added, “He has teddy bears because he has the mentality of a 10-year-old.”

Though Kennedy was on trial for murder, jurors had the option of finding him guilty of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter.

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