CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man was convicted Tuesday by a Linn County jury of killing a man and seriously injuring a woman nearly a year ago this week.
A jury deliberated nearly two days, following more than a four-day trial for Ezekiel Phillips, 30, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Tyrice Douglas, attempted murder of former girlfriend Mone Dotson, going armed with intent and willful injury causing serious injury.
Phillips faces life in prison without parole for the first-degree murder charge.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte, after the verdict was returned around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, thanked Cedar Rapids police for their work on the case, as well as witnesses and jurors “for having the courage to stand up against gun violence in our community.”
Defense attorneys maintained Phillips’ innocence throughout trial, saying he wasn’t the shooter and there is no physical evidence linking him to the shooting. They also said Dotson and another eyewitness didn’t prove Phillips was the shooter, there was no proof Phillips had a gun — which police didn’t recover — and the medical examiner can’t prove the gunshots led to Douglas’ death.
Phillips didn’t testify, and the defense didn’t call any witnesses.
During the trial, Dotson, 19, testified that Phillips entered her apartment at 1623 Park Towne Ct. NE and fired multiple shots at her and Douglas, her boyfriend, while they were in bed Dec. 19, 2018. Dotson said Phillips fired four times at her before turning the gun on Douglas and shooting him multiple times.
Douglas, 27, survived the shooting following surgery and rehabilitation, but he developed an infection caused by the gunshot injuries and died about four months later on May 6. An associate state medical examiner said if it wasn’t for his gunshot injuries, he wouldn’t have died.
Dr. Kelly Kruse, of the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, said one gunshot injured Douglas’ left common carotid artery, which supplies blood to the head. The other gunshot was to the back of his neck at the seventh cervical vertebrae — vertebrae of the neck immediately below the skull. She said both areas were infected, along with a blood clot in the carotid artery that prevented blood flow to the brain.
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The cause of death was from complications of remote gunshot wounds — meaning he survived, but infections from the wounds caused his death, and the manner of death was homicide, Kruse said.
The infection started in the gunshot wounds and went to the brain, she said.
Phillips will be sentenced Feb. 21.
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