A Mecklenburg County jury found Rayquan Borum guilty of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in the shooting death of 26-year-old Justin Carr.
The verdict brings to a close a case that underscored the mistrust between some members of the community and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. On Sept. 21, 2016 — the night that Carr was fatally shot — he was among the thousands in uptown Charlotte protesting the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Carr's mother, Vivian, addressed the court after the verdict was read.
"I feel like the whole trial was made about the defendant," she said through tears. "My son was down there for a cause, taking a stand for something he strongly believed in. And he was murdered. He had just discovered his purpose in life. He about to have his first son."
A son she added who would never get to meet his father. A son the family named Justin.
Judge Gregory Hayes then asked Borum if he wanted to say anything. Borum declined. Hayes then sentence him to at least 24 years in prison.
Outside in the rain, assistant district attorneys Glenn Cole and Desmond McCallum met with reporters. McCallum said testimony from 18 witnesses, especially the ones who were there the night Carr was shot, played a huge role in the jury's verdict.
"We brought forward members of the community who were present and brave enough to come forward and not only provide testimony but present videos of what they recorded that day," he said, "because we knew it was important for this community to see what occurred to see the investigation that was done to see what happened to Justin and to see what was going on in their community."
Defense attorney Mark Simmons said Borum's family was devastated by the verdict. However, he noted Borum would have faced life in prision without parole had he been found guilty of first-degree murder.
"It's a somber day either way because a life was lost and someone else is going to be in prison for a very long time, pending notice of appeal of course. "
As for Borum's reaction to the verdict, Simmons said he kept relatively quiet.
"Rayquan is an interesting client and you know he helped us in his defense the best way he could. With respect to today I can't imagine the emotions he's feeling. Twenty-four-years-old and looking at a long, long time in prison. I don't know how I would feel. He didn't say a whole lot to us. We are grateful to have worked with him and I think that feeling is mutual."
Borum's other attorney, Darlene Harris, issued a statement saying the legal system failed to provide Borum due process.
"Throughout the trial, the defense team argued that when it came to Mr. Borum, due process was a hollow phrase. In addition to violating his Miranda Rights by failing to cease questioning until my client's request for an attorney was granted, local police may have induced unlawful statements. There have been a host of other inconsistencies (for instance, metal fragments in the victim were never tested) that raise a specter of doubt about my client's culpability," the statement said.
"Additionally, throughout the trial, the State and her witnesses, instead of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, attempted to paint my client in unfavorable terms," Harris continued. "However, a murder trial is not a congeniality contest. This was never about whether my client was likable; this case is about whether he should spend the rest of his life in jail."
The jury rendered its verdict after going into deliberations on Wednesday, when closing arguments were made.
On Friday, the jury asked to re-watch four videos at full and half speed. One of the videos was from a documentary filmmaker.
Prosecutors had argued that Borum could be off camera in a video shouting "shoot back."
[Related Content: Rayquan Borum Murder Trial, Death of Justin Carr Explained]
In closing arguments Wednesday morning, prosecutor Desmond McCallum also had reminded the jurors of video footage that put Borum near the scene of the shooting, calls he made from jail after his arrest that McCallum argued implicated Borum in the shooting and a recorded interview with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police in which Borum admitted to firing a gun.
Simmons focused on the credibility of the state's only eyewitness, Kendell Bowden, who is serving a federal sentence for aggravated identity theft and bank fraud. Bowden testified that Borum shot a gun. Simmons argued that CMPD was quick to arrest Borum to make the incident going way and that they failed to do a thorough investigation.
Borum decided not to take the stand, and the defense did not present any evidence of its own. Simmons said part of that decision was so they could address the jury last.