Public Safety

Jury finds Lamar Wilson guilty of lesser charges in Ped Mall fatal shooting

Judge now will decide if Wilson should be granted immunity under 'stand your ground'

(File photo) Lamar Wilson (from left) talks with his attorney, John Bruzek, after an Oct. 27, 2017, hearing at the Johns
(File photo) Lamar Wilson (from left) talks with his attorney, John Bruzek, after an Oct. 27, 2017, hearing at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

An Iowa City man convicted Wednesday of fatally shooting a man and injuring two others last August on the downtown Pedestrian Mall will now argue to a judge why he should be granted immunity under the state’s new “stand your ground” provision.

After two and half days of deliberations, a jury found Lamar Wilson, 21, guilty of lesser charges — voluntary manslaughter, two counts of assault with the intent to inflict serious injury and intimidation with a dangerous weapon. He faces up to 22 years in prison, not the life in prison he would have faced if convicted on the original charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Wilson’s attorneys will ask 6th Judicial District Judge Paul Miller to find that their client is immune from prosecution because he was justified in firing five times at Kaleek Jones, 22, who was struck in the back and neck and killed; and also at Xavier Hicks and his cousin, D’Andre Hicks, who were injured.

The shooting occurred early Aug. 27 as the downtown Iowa City bars were about to close.

The defense said at trial that Wilson feared for his life. Jones and the cousins were unarmed, but others with Jones’ group had guns and attacked Wilson and his friends. So Wilson, who had a permit to carry a gun, was forced to defend himself and others, they argued.

Defense attorney John Bruzek argued in a previous motion to dismiss the case that the new state gun law establishing a stand-your-ground provision grants individuals the right to immunity from prosecution if deadly force is justified and reasonable.

Prosecutors argued before trial that the new law could grant immunity for criminal or civil liability for damages — but not immunity from prosecution.

Miller, in a November ruling, said he would postpone the issue until he had heard evidence at trial. He would allow the jury to reach a verdict, and then determine if immunity should be granted, he said.

The trial was moved to Polk County because of pretrial publicity.

Miller said last week, after the jury started deliberations, that he would set another hearing and allow the defense to submit briefs in addition to the trial record.

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said late Wednesday the hearing would likely be arguments made by herself and Wilson’s defense attorney. She didn’t think there were be any testimony.

According to trial testimony, Wilson and his friends clashed with Jones and his friends on the Ped Mall over a Facebook post that made derogatory comments about Wilson’s friend Daquan Jefferson, who had died in a car crash.

Wilson was angry over the post, but Donte Taylor, Jones’ friend, had posted the comments — not Jones, Lyness said in her opening statement.

The defense argued the case wasn’t a “whodunit.” Wilson fired the shots. The question for the jury, the defense said, was whether Wilson’s actions were reasonable and justified.

Matt Shimanovsky, another defense attorney, in his opening statement said Taylor was the “antagonist” that night. Taylor was the one posting those things about Jefferson, saying he’s “ready for war.” Wilson was defending himself and others in his group, the lawyer said.

Wilson also faces a charge of gang participation, which was severed from the other charges but also stems from the Ped Mall shooting.

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