After deliberating all afternoon and into the night on Thursday, a Criminal Court jury decided that Kaylon Bailey was guilty of the first-degree murder of Kima Evans and guilty of felony possession of a firearm. Bailey was charged with shooting Evans over six times with an M16 assault rifle.
The first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life prison sentence.
Prosecutor Bates Bryan detailed the shooting in his closing statement. He recapped former medical examiner Frank Knox King Jr.'s description of the victim's gunshot wounds, reminding the jury exactly where each bullet hit. He said, "All the mother could see when she first arrived was one of the wounds in the back. She couldn't see the extent of the injuries. But the victim, Kima Evans, had holes all in him...He knew he was dying."
Next, Attorney Bryan showed the jury how close the gunman would have been to Evans, standing in front of them and using a ruler to demonstrate. He said, "He was so close he wanted the victim to see who was killing him. You can't take this type of weapon and fire 10 times and not think you're going to kill someone. He was shooting fish in a barrel."
The prosecution then played the 911 tape one last time. On the tape, Evans' mother can be heard saying that her son told her Kaylon Bailey shot him. Attorney Bryan questioned, "Why would his last dying wish be to say that someone, other than the person who shot him, shot him? Why would he make something up as his last dying breath?"
The defense, however, debated that Evans believed he was dying. In his closing statement, defense attorney Mike Acuff said, "Does someone who is dying do the things that Mr. Evans did?" He referred to Mrs. Evans' testimony, where she admitted that her son asked her to hide his marijuana and several cell phones before the police arrived. Also, while the prosecution had previously said that Evans was simply sitting in his car smoking marijuana, the defense said that there was no residue or evidence that anyone had smoked in the vehicle. Attorney Acuff suggested that Evans had actually been selling marijuana. He said, "The natural thought is a drug deal gone bad."
The defense also pointed out the lack of evidence against Bailey; the murder weapon was never found and no DNA or fingerprints linked Bailey to the crime scene. Also, there was no proof of motive. Attorney Acuff said that for Bailey to have murdered Evans, there would have to be some rationale. The only proven connection that Bailey and Evans had was that they were childhood friends. When police searched Bailey's cell phone, there was no communication between him and Evans.
Attorney Acuff also discussed Bailey's alibis. The prosecution had previously pointed out that both parties were claiming they were with Bailey at the same time, and that this was impossible. The Johnson family of Fort Oglethorpe, said that Bailey was at their home around the time of the murder, playing video games and eating dinner with them. Bailey's mother said that he arrived at her home between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Attorney Acuff, however, pointed out that especially in the case of Mr. Johnson and his children, that they were not trying to contradict Mrs. Bailey. He said that while the children may not be able to give specific times, they both still testified that Bailey was there in their home. He said, "Lebron Jr. says he and Mr. Bailey spent time playing video games while his dad fixed dinner."
The trial, which started Tuesday, originally began in June but ended in a mistrial when a juror admitted to looking up outside information and offering to pass it on to his fellow jurors during the deliberations.
Dr. King explained to the jury the extent of the victim's injuries, saying that there were at least six bullet entry wounds. Dr. King said that one shot entered below his elbow, two more hit his chest, and another hit his upper leg.
Once in the hospital, Evans was put into a medically induced coma to heal, but he never recovered. One of the shots hit his lung, and he developed pneumonia. Several of his other wounds developed infections, and much of his right hip and pelvis had to be removed. Dr. King said, "It's amazing to me that he lived 16 days."
Dr. King used prosecutor Jason Demastus to demonstrate to the jury the location of the gunshot wounds, having him stand still while Dr. King pointed to where the shots would have hit.
Other witnesses brought in by the prosecution to testify included a firearms expert and several Chattanooga police officers who had handled the evidence. Officer Mark Hamilton had collected cell phone records, and Sargeant Jay Evan Montgomery had investigated the gunshot residue.
Judge Rebecca Stern had ordered that the jury be sequestered, so the jurors stayed at a hotel for the duration of the trial.
Attorney Acuff earlier had sought a change of venue, but the judge ordered the rare sequestration.