A jury has convicted a Princeton man of murdering the mother of his child.
The Mercer County jury did not recommend mercy for 27-year-old Marcus McKinley. That means he will serve a life sentence without possibility of parole.
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that after hearing four days of sometimes emotional testimony, the jury deliberated several hours before returning the verdict Friday night. McKinley was charged in the May 19, 2011, shooting death of 18-year-old Ayana Patton at her apartment in downtown Bluefield.
The victim’s mother, Barbara Patton, quietly wept while Special Prosecutor Edward Kornish described her daughter’s final moments to the jury. Earlier, Patton testified that she did not approve of her daughter’s relationship with McKinley, who would sometimes check Ayana out of high school by pretending to be her uncle. She said her daughter and McKinley were on a cycle of breaking up and reconciling before the shooting.
Kornish told the jury McKinley shot Patton five times after looking on her cell phone and discovering she had started dating someone else.
“That’s very good shooting,” Kornish said in closing arguments. “That’s not random shooting.”
Defense attorney Tom Czarnik argued that the case fit the criteria for voluntary manslaughter, not first-degree murder, because the shooting stemmed from “a crisis of anger and shock,” not premeditation.
McKinley had testified that he had the gun for protection because members of the Patton family had threatened him.
“He testified that he had been threatened, that he did not go up there to hurt her,” Czarnik said.