Generic: Gavel

ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) - The Buncombe County District Attorney said a juvenile defendant originally charged in a murder case dating back to April 2018 has been acquitted of all charges by a jury.

The district attorney's office announced Friday that the defendant, who is not being identified, was originally charged with 1st degree murder, attempted 1st degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and two counts of injury to personal property.

The office says evidence presented at the trial indicated that the juvenile walked to the Lee Walker Heights housing complex on April 21, 2018. There, the juvenile confronted 21-year-old Devon Harvin. While the matter of confrontation was unknown, the office believes it was gang-related.

The office went on to say a second unnamed victim, also aged 21, saw the confrontation and tried to de-escalate it. At that time, the juvenile produced a handgun and shot at Harvin and the other victim, firing multiple rounds. Harvin was shot in the neck, leg, and back, and later died at the hospital after being transported by private vehicle.

The second victim was shot in the wrist and chest. The district attorney's office says those injuries demanded a three-week hospital stay, physical therapy, and lengthy healing period. The office says a bullet was just removed from the victim's chest recently, in September 2019.

A witness for the state of North Carolina testified that Harvin was armed prior to engaging with the juvenile, but put his weapon down prior to the confrontation. The second victim was unarmed, which was undisputed in court. 

Because the juvenile was under the age of 16 at the time, the case originated in juvenile court before being transferred to Superior Court after a two-day probable cause hearing.

The office says the defendant claimed self-defense at jury, and the jury was instructed by the judge on what comprises the "stand your ground" law. A five-day trial ensued with more than 18 witnesses called to the stand. The office notes the defendant called no witnesses. After all of this, the jury deliberated for 5 hours before returning their verdict.

“Though I respect the jury’s decision and accept their verdict, and also accept that no court proceeding can restore a life lost in brief and senseless acts of gun violence, my sympathies abide with the victim’s family and I wish them peace.  While the verdict was not what our trial team sought, the team gave their absolute best effort to seek justice on behalf of the victims and the State of North Carolina,” District Attorney Todd Williams said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THIS CASE:

Police: One dead, another in stable condition after shooting in Asheville

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