Crime

Jury hands down verdict for three teens accused of murder in Christmas 2017 crime spree

Kevonta Daykwon Daniels was just 14 years old when he was arrested and charged in a Dec. 18, 2017 home break-in and shooting of 61-year-old Kenneth E. Moore.

Now 16, he faces the possibility of a lifetime behind bars after he and Ladarius Travon Render, 17, were found guilty by a Muscogee County jury Thursday on felony murder charges as well as first-degree burglary and multiple aggravated assault charges.

Daniels was also found guilty of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and Render was found guilty of theft by receiving stolen property.

A third suspect, Marquez Jamon Clayton, 19, was found not guilty on charges of murder, first-degree burglary and aggravated assault.

His attorney, Stacey Jackson, said he and his client were ecstatic about the verdict.

“It’s been a pretty much tenuous 17-18 month process for the young man, obviously being incarcerated and waiting to hear those two words: ‘not guilty.’ But we knew form the very beginning, we felt we had a pretty strong case of innocence just due to the fact that there wasn’t any corroborating evidence to show that Mr. Clayton was present at the scene when Mr. Moore passed away,” Jackson said.

Jackson said that Clayton should be released today, and that next steps would be trying to clear his record through court motions.

“Since this was a jury trial and not a dismissal before a grand jury, the state does have a right to object to an expungement or to sealing of the record,” Jackson said. “And if they did, we would have to have a hearing before a Superior Court judge to iron that out.”

A fourth suspect in the crime spree, Devin Fitzgerald Burden, was not tried because he agreed to testify. He was indicted for theft, using a gun to commit a felony and three counts of aggravated assault.

Sentencing for Daniels and Render has been set for August 23.

The teens were arrested following a nine-day crime spree that involved stealing cars and fatally shooting Moore in his Curry Street residence. Police said Moore returned to his home about 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 and found intruders in his house, who shot him and took his cell phone, spare keys and some of his family’s Christmas presents.

Moore died two weeks later on Jan. 1, 2018 from his injuries. In the meantime, a rash of stolen cars prompted police to search for and arrest the suspects.

Daniels was represented in the trial, which started last week, by attorneys Anthony Johnson and Barbara Evans. Defense attorney Michael Eddings represented Render.

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