A 17-year-old, Damarion Reed, was acquitted of first-degree murder in the Warren County Circuit Court on Friday.
Reed, who was just 15 years old at the time of the alleged crime, faced trial for the 2021 murder of 21-year-old Malik Vallarie. Over the course of the three-day trial, numerous witnesses were called to the stand, many of whom were Reed’s former friends and family members.
District Attorney Ricky Smith and Assistant District Attorney Michael Warren both prosecuted the case and indicated that Reed, in fact, was the actual shooter.
Two teen witnesses were particularly notable in their testimonies, both suggesting that Reed was the shooter responsible for Vallarie’s death in the Vicksburg King’s community. The 14-year-old witness, the daughter of Reed’s co-defendant, Laqesha Davis, claimed that Reed’s motive for the murder was retaliation, as Vallarie had supposedly assaulted Reed’s mother just days prior. Another teenager, visibly distressed, corroborated this claim.
Despite the accusations, Reed’s defense attorney, John Bullard, adamantly argued against his client’s guilt, suggesting that the actual killer was in fact the co-defendant, Laqesha Davis. Supporting this, Reed testified that Vallarie had stolen a gun from Davis, who then retaliated with deadly force. Further complicating matters, Bullard highlighted inconsistencies in the testimonies of the two teenage witnesses, emphasizing their initial false reports to the police.
Strengthening the defense’s case, Bullard presented video evidence showing Vallarie in possession of the supposedly stolen handgun. Additionally, Reed stated during his testimony that, after the shooting, Davis herself claimed responsibility, exclaiming, “I got him, I got him.”
Admitting his own initial dishonesty due to his young age and fear, Reed insisted that he wanted to avoid Vallarie’s fate.
Following their deliberations, which lasted less than half an hour, the jury reached a decision: Reed was found not guilty.
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