Jury finds local teen not guilty of murder, convicted of lesser charges

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

CUSSETA, GA (WTVM) - After hours of deliberating, a jury has found 18-year-old Quentin Sawyer not guilty of felony murder in connection with the shooting death of 19-year-old Demarcus Lukes.

News Leader 9 was the only media outlet in the courtroom as Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters announced the verdict Thursday afternoon.

The jurors did, however, find Sawyer guilty of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, making false statements and weapons charges.

Sawyer told authorities the January 2009 shooting was an accident and that the gun went off as Lukes was handing it to him.

Lukes in the head at close range inside of a car at a Cusseta trailer park.

The state says other men in the car saw Sawyer point the gun at Luke's head and that they never saw Lukes holding the weapon.

"We're pleased that the jury found him not guilty of the felony murder. All along, Quentin has indicated he'd be willing to come in and plead to the involuntary manslaughter. He accepts responsibility for causing the death of the young man but I am disappointed in the findings on the false statements and the aggravated assault. I think those reflect that there was an attempt to harm and I don't think that existed," said Sawyer's attorney, Richard Hagler, after the proceedings.

Don Kelly, the prosecutor for the state, tells News Leader 9 he is pleased with the jury's verdict and feels the case has come to a fair resolution.

Both Lukes and Sawyer's family declined to comment after the verdict.

Altogether with his other charges, Judge Bobby Peters sentenced Sawyer to 25 years in a state prison but he will be eligible for parole.

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