A jury deliberated about two hours Thursday before finding a former Star Spencer High School football player guilty of second-degree murder in the drive-by shooting death of a teenager.
Jurors recommended 14 years in prison as punishment for Darrin Paul Burton Jr., 21, of Midwest City, who faced a first-degree murder charge in the June 14, 2011, death of Khaelin Irving.
Prosecutors said Irving was riding in a car with three other people, including his brother, when a gold car began following them near NE 23 and Douglas Boulevard.
Burton, a passenger in the gold car, took the stand Thursday and told jurors he fired a single shot in self-defense when someone in the victim's car pointed a chrome revolver in his direction near the intersection of Shadywood Drive and NE 10.
“It looked like a .38 (caliber),” Burton testified. “I couldn't tell who had the gun.”
Prosecutors said a prior dispute between rival gang members fueled a confrontation at a traffic signal that led to Irving's death
Three passengers in the victim's car testified Tuesday that no one in their car had a gun.
“We believed from day one that the people in the other car had a firearm,” defense attorney Malcolm Savage said. “I guess the jury didn't believe that.”
Jurors, though, could not find that Burton acted with malice aforethought and rejected a first-degree murder charge.
Burton also testified about disposing of the gun in a trash container near a park the same day Irving was killed. He turned himself in to police the following morning.
Co-defendant Davian Blair pleaded guilty in the case and received a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony. Asked if he saw anyone in the other car with a gun, Blair, the driver of the gold car, answered, “No.”
Burton was visibly upset as he left the courtroom and shouted an expletive as deputies accompanied him to the courthouse jail elevator. Members of Burton's family wept as they left the courtroom.
The panel also found Burton guilty of three counts of intentionally shooting a firearm from another vehicle and recommended two years in prison on each count.
He is set to be sentenced May 3 by Oklahoma County District Judge Jerry D. Bass.