Virginia jury finds teen guilty in murder of Tempe man - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Virginia jury finds teen guilty in murder of Tempe man

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Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 3:56 pm

A 17-year-old boy authorities say was responsible for initiating the kicking and beating death of an elderly Tempe man in Lynchburg, Va. was found guilty of first-degree murder.

Kenneth Davis, who was 16 at the time of the crime, was found guilty of the charge by a jury in Lynchburg Circuit Court in a crowded courtroom on Thursday in connection to the death of George Baker III, 81. The jury deliberated for about an hour and 40 minutes, according to Jeff Bennett, an attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia's District Attorney's Office.

Police say Davis and Vernon Jackson, both 16 at the time of the crime, and a 13-year-old boy attacked and beat Baker in downtown Lynchburg as he was walking to a restaurant the evening after his granddaughter's wedding on Sept. 5. Baker died hours later at a nearby hospital. Police say Davis told his friends he was walking with that night, "I'm going to hit the next person I see," and initiated the crime to impress a girl.

Davis is the second teenager to be found guilty of first-degree murder in Baker's death and will be sentenced on May 20.

Teenagers being convicted of first-degree murder is not a very common occurrence in Virginia, according to Bennett, who prosecuted the case.

"This is the first time I've prosecuted a juvenile for first-degree murder, and the first one that I know of in my nine years here," Bennett said. "The evidence that came up in court was that the attack was essentially Davis' idea."

Davis did not testify during his trial, Bennett said.

Davis' attorney, Gordon Peters Jr., could not be reached for comment.

Last week, the 13-year-old boy, who now is 14 and is not being named, also was found guilty of first-degree murder by a judge in the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

He will be sentenced on April 6 in Lynchburg's Juvenile Domestic Relations Court. Under Virginia state law, he cannot face life in prison but could be held until he is 21, according to Mike Dousette, an attorney in the Virginia Commonwealth's district attorney's office.

The trial of Vernon Jackson, the other 16-year-old who participated in the attack on Baker, was scheduled to begin on Monday, but has been rescheduled for April, according to information from the Lynchburg Circuit Court. He also has been charged with first-degree murder.

Davis and Jackson are being held in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

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