JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man on trial for the second time in the 2011 shooting death of his 20-year-old high school classmate was found guilty Wednesday of second-degree murder.
The jury hearing Fredrick Wade's retrial in the death of Kalil McCoy deliberated for less than four hours Wednesday after hearing closing arguments in the two-day trial.
Five years ago, Wade was convicted of shooting McCoy, whose body was found June 21, 2011, dumped in a field off East 31st Street in Jacksonville. That verdict was overturned by an appeals court that found the jury in the original trial was given improper instructions.
According to police, Wade and three friends were with McCoy in Wade's SUV after leaving Club Plush when there was an argument because McCoy wanted her window rolled up in the SUV. Wade was accused of pulling out a handgun and pointing it in McCoy's direction. Wade claimed that as he was pulling the gun out, it discharged, hitting McCoy in the head.
"This is a tragedy, not a crime, which he will live with for the rest of his life," Wade's attorney, Gonzalo Andux, said.
Prosecutors painted a different picture, telling the jury that Wade might not have planned to kill his former classmate, but that when they got into a fight, he acted with deadly consequences.
"It was not an accident when, during the course of an argument, this defendant drew that handgun from under the seat," Assistant State Attorney Trey Atkinson said.
The six-member jury unanimously found the evidence convincing, returning the guilty verdict just after 6 p.m. Wednesday.
"It's not going to bring Kalil back, but we finally got justice for her," said Lynnette Roebuck, Kalil's mother. "We finally got a victory and justice for my daughter. I can finally do something for my daughter, open a dance studio, open up her clothing store. I can finally move on just a little bit and honor my daughter."
Wade was initially charged with manslaughter until the charge was upgraded to second-degree murder.
The three other suspects -- Kennard Mahone, Jonathan Brooks and Alfred Mears -- all pleaded guilty to being accessories after the fact after they admitted they helped dispose of McCoy's body and ditched the gun. No one called the police.
McCoy, Wade, Mahone, Brooks and Mears were classmates at Andrew Jackson High School, from where McCoy had graduated weeks before her death.
"The evidence that they showed and everything doesn't show that it was an accident. It's common sense," said Adil McCoy, the victim's brother.
Though watching the second trial has been difficult for McCoy’s family, her mother said she can finally move forward after years spent fighting for justice.
"I have been waiting for this for six years," Roebuck said. "I haven't been able to rest. I haven't been able to work. I haven't been able to live or do anything positive because I've been worried about this situation."
Wade was sentenced to life in prison in August 2012 but was resentenced to 25 years to life in October 2013.
In February 2015, the 1st District Court of Appeal threw out his conviction, citing faulty jury instructions, and ordered Wade retried.
Wade’s lawyers unsuccessfully tried to have his confession thrown out, and prosecutors and defense attorneys tried to work out a plea deal ahead of the retrial. Wade's attorney wanted the charge reduced to manslaughter.
During the first day of the retrial, the other men in the SUV testified that the shooting was an accident and that Wade didn't know the gun was loaded.
The men admitted they ditched the gun and dumped McCoy’s body in the woods, claiming Wade didn’t want to take her to a hospital because he was scared of the police.
Wade will now await sentencing for the second time.
"I want him to understand and feel the pain that my family feels -- if he can understand how we feel," Roebuck said of her daughter's killer, whose name she never wants to hear again.