Jury clears Victoria siblings of murder, convicts them of lesser charges
April 17, 2013 at 12:01 p.m.
Updated April 17, 2013 at 11:18 p.m.
DEFINITIONS OF LEGAL TERMS
The 24th District Judge Jack Marr instructed jurors on the legal definitions of the terms in the cases.
Murder: In order to be found guilty of murder the defendants needn't have intended to kill the victim nor even fired the weapon that did so. He said they can be found responsible if they were a part of a group whose actions encouraged or led to his death. Mere presence alone was not enough to convict them of murder.
Co-conspirator testimony must be corroborated by evidence.
Deadly conduct: Deadly conduct means one knowingly and recklessly discharged a firearm in the direction of people or habitations.
A jury found a brother and sister duo not guilty of murder Wednesday, but they may still be punished for having a hand in a shooting where one man died.
Jurors also determined Erica Nicole McClure, 27, was not guilty of deadly conduct, but was guilty of engaging in organized criminal activity with a deadly weapon.
Her brother, Joshua Dewight McClure, 21, was found guilty of deadly conduct and engaging in organized criminal activity.
The McClures were among a group of people who, the state alleged, returned to a party in the 800 block of Ash Street about 3 a.m. July 30, 2011 after a fight about beer and shot at homes.
That led to the death of Daniel Davila, a 24-year-old father of two, Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler said.
He said Joshua McClure fired a shot gun and Erica McClure helped organize the retaliation.
Davila suffered a gunshot wound from a 9 mm round. The state said that round was fired by the McClures' co-defendant, Marcellus Brown.
Brown was acquitted of murder in late September. He was found guilty of engaging in organized criminal activity and sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Police never recovered the weapons.
Each of the offenses are a second degree felony and carry a punishment between two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine could be assessed. Tyler said Joshua McClures' sentences could run concurrently.
When the verdict was read, the McClures held hands. Erica McClure wiped tears from her eyes.
"I can't question the outcome, but sometimes juries have difficulties with instructions and their application," Tyler said afterward. "This story is really a story of tragedy. ... I don't think they got rid of beer. It's not a rare item."
Both defense attorneys Patti Lea Hutson and Keith Weiser, who represented Erica McClure and Joshua McClure, respectively, declined to comment until after sentencing.
The Davila family also declined to comment until after sentencing.
In closing arguments, Tyler said he was only required to prove the elements of the offense, not things, such as how Davila's body came to rest in the 900 block of Goldman Street. That's where neighbors discovered his body some 10 hours later.
Hutson's assertion that Erica McClure simply returned to the scene of the party was an understatement, Tyler said.
"This was not a casual visit," he said, describing how the 14- or 18-person group pulled up with multiple weapons. "They may be young and impulsive . but you name the place, you name the hour, there is no excuse."
Weiser, meanwhile, advised jurors to weigh the credibility of each witness, whom he said may have questionable motives.
Co-defendants Kia Johnson, 32, and Jefferson Hill, 19, are expected to receive 10 years of probation and 15 years in prison, respectively, for the parts they played in the incident, he said.
"But Pedro Lucio, he is getting the best deal of all," Weiser said.
Lucio testified previously that he overheard another co-defendant, Brown, in the Victoria County Jail brag about how he wiped his fingerprints from the 9 mm shell casings.
Lucio, in exchange for his testimony, is expected to receive five years in prison after pleading guilty for attempted murder, Weiser said.
Weiser said if Joshua McClure was guilty of anything, it was deadly conduct because an unbiased witness, neighbor Brian Vassar, observed him pull up in an Oldsmobile and fire a weapon more than 360 feet away from the intersection where the shooting was said to have occurred, where Davila was said to have been fatally struck.
Hutson also questioned the witnesses' credibility. She said the only witness to link Erica McClure to the incident was Jacklyn O'Shae Conner.
Conner was in the Jackson County Jail for two counts of burglary before testifying in this case Tuesday. She is expected to receive the minimum sentence on those charges for cooperating with officials.
On the stand, Conner said she saw Erica McClure pack her things in a rush at a home they shared together the morning after the shooting was published in the paper. She overheard Erica McClure talk to others about the shooting.
Conner also admitted to having a previous romantic relationship with Brown and getting upset when other people implicated him in Davila's death. That's why, she said, she lied to a Victoria Police Department detective previously.
The sentencing portion of the trial will continue at 9 a.m. Thursday.
A Victoria police officer testified Wednesday about a recent drug investigation involving Erica McClure.
She was arrested by officers Saturday on suspicion of manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance less than 1 gram in a drug-free zone, manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance between 4 and 400 grams and engaging in organized criminal activity.
At the end of the day, the McClures were taken into custody and placed in the Victoria County Jail.
Brendan Guy, with the Victoria County District Attorney's appellate chief, assisted the prosecution.