The trial of Tymon Reed in the shooting death of 16-year-old Javon Reilly will stretch into Thursday, after a Jackson County jury did not reach a verdict Wednesday afternoon.
Reed is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Sept. 19, 2016, shooting death of Reilly, a sophomore at Van Horn High School who had been walking home with a group of friends.
The jury also has the options to find Reed guilty of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder. Reed's attorney has argued that he lacked the pre-meditation necessary for first-degree murder – that the shooting came in a moment of fear and panic. Reed tried to convey that himself in the answers he gave when he took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.
Prosecutors argued in their closing statement and rebuttal that Reed had no business being at the area of Home Avenue and Truman Road near Van Horn that day, regardless of the prior conflict he said he was trying to resolve, and could have walked away from a confrontation with Reilly instead of pulling out a gun and ultimately shooting him several times.
Judge Jennifer Phillips handed the case to the jury at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday following 1 1/2 days of testimony and arguments.
Before Reed testified, the jury heard from the medical examiner who performed Reilly's autopsy. Dr. Marius Tarau said the boy suffered five bullet wounds – all entering through the back or buttocks – plus a bullet wound on a finger that could have come from one of the bullets that tore through Reilly's body.
Tarau said it was inconclusive how close Reed was to Reilly when shooting him, as the entrance wounds did not have gunshot residue associated with close-range shots but his shirt, which was cut off during life-saving attempts, could have collected that residue.
During his testimony, Reed said that he went to the Van Horn area on Sept. 19 to try talking with Owen Ogo, a student who had arranged a sale of marijuana that ended with Reed being robbed at gunpoint. He said he wanted to try and get Ogo's friends to stop harassing him. He brought the gun for protection because of his slight stature.
Instead, he came upon Reilly and several of Reilly's friends, and Reilly remembered Reed from a previous encounter near Van Horn. As this encounter grew heated, Reed said, he tried to walk away and tried to get Reilly away, but instead he was followed. Pulling out the gun and cocking it, he said, was simply an attempt to scare.
“I wanted them to leave me alone,” he said. “I thought they would run away.”
Reed said he said he pointed the gun at Reilly's feet, and the first shot went off when Reilly reached for the gun and they wrestled over it.
“I panicked and kept firing,” he said, starting to tear up. “I was panicked, shocked – a lot of emotion going on.”
Reed said he had no prior intention to kill anybody, that he regrets every bad choice he made and that Reilly didn't deserve to die.
During cross-examination, Reed said he had no idea beforehand if he was a good shot, as he'd never been to a gun range. During the fatal incident, he said, “I didn't see what I was shooting at.”
During her closing argument, Assistant Prosecutor Hallie Williams hammered at the idea that the “cool reflection” described in premeditation for first-degree murder could come at any time and for any length of time before the fatal act.
But Reed chose to go near the school and not walk away to his car, and he chose to turn back toward Reilly and cock his gun.
“He could've walked away, but he reflected and he chose to fire that gun,” Williams said.
Defense attorney Molly Hastings pleaded with the jury not to have the tragic incident essentially end two lives. Reed, she said, made a split-second decision that changed his life in the worst possible way.
“Even if one turn at the corner had been taken, we would not be here today,” she said. “Tymon Reed made an incredibly poor, stupid, immature decision, but he did not intend to kill Javon Reilly.
“That moment was about losing control. It was not about intending to kill.”
In her rebuttal, Assistant Prosecutor Traci Stansell said pre-meditation doesn't require a plan. Reed could've simply let the whole situation go, but instead, “He has to be the badass with the gun.”
The deliberation, she said, came from his choice not to leave and to pull out a gun. Reilly was “running for his life when he was shot five times in the back.”
“There was cool reflection every single time he pulled that trigger. Every single time.”