A jury in the trial of a man accused of shooting an Orlando teenager began deliberations on Thursday.
A day earlier, the same jury got to see firsthand how a stray bullet has impacted the life of an Danielle Sampson, who was struck in the head as she rode in a minivan on the way home from church on the evening of July 29, 2012. Tyrone Mosby is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Sampson, who now floats in and out of consciousness in a wheelchair.
Circuit Judge Julie O'Kane called for a recess shortly 5 p.m., when jurors sent her a note saying they were at a logical stopping point. Deliberations began just after 11 a.m. Thursday morning, but came to a halt for nearly two hours when the jury requested to rehear testimony from six witnesses.
The prosecution's key witness, Chester Joseph, testified earlier in the week that he caught Mosby trying to break into his home on the night of the shooting. He said he immediately pursued him, but then Mosby started firing shots into the neighborhood, and he fled.
In closing arguments Thursday morning, prosecutor Nicole Pegues laid it all on the line. "We know there was a shooting. We know that someone shot at Chester Joseph. We know that there was a chase down North Lane and Powers. We know that there was gun fire on Powers that hit Danielle Sampson."
Pegues told the jury that there was no question who fired the bullet that struck Sampson. "We've established beyond a reasonable doubt," the assistant state attorney said. "It was this man, Tyrone Mosby."
The state's biggest challenge is that their star witness is a two-time convicted felon who admitted to lying to police during the initial investigation. Joseph testified that a dark gray Dodge SUV was backed up to his garage when he arrived home that fateful evening and that the driver fired several shots at him before taking off. Joseph later identified Mosby as the trigger man.
Mosby's public defender, Justin Bleakley, argued that Joseph can not be trusted. He pointed out that witnesses had different descriptions of the gunman's car. "How can you believe him, when he's told you he's lied before, except when he wasn't telling you a lie before, and now he's not going to lie any more, except when he started lying again? How can you believe that beyond a reasonable doubt?"
Bleakley said it would be a double crime if they convicted his client, just because they want justice for the teenage girl whose life was forever changed. "Sometimes in serious cases like this, when something really bad has happened," said Bleakley, "there's an inclination to convict somebody, just because you feel bad, or you want to convict someone to pay for what happened to Ms. Sampson. That's a human feeling."
Jury deliberations resume at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning.