A once-promising Baltimore boxer who had been charged in six murders and was acquitted of the first three was convicted Tuesday of killing two brothers and shooting their mother in 2012.
A Baltimore jury convicted James Berry III and co-defendant Tyrone Carter on several charges, including two counts of murder, murder conspiracy and attempted murder. A third co-defendant, Travian Taylor, was acquitted on all charges.
The three were charged in the November 2012 killing of brothers Allen and Darien Horton. Prosecutors said a group of masked men kicked in the door to the Hortons' West Baltimore home, ordered family members downstairs at gunpoint and demanded to know the whereabouts of another Horton brother.
Prosecutors said the gunmen opened fire, killing Allen Horton, 23, and Darian Horton, 19, and wounding their mother, Renee Horton, 48. The shootings were part of a years-long wave of violence connected to Berry and a group of neighborhood friends.
Defense attorneys had argued during the trial this month that while Renee Horton was convinced that Berry shot her, her ability to conclusively identify him and the other shooters was questionable. The gunmen had been wearing masks, and she and another witness had picked out others in photo lineups. There was no video, fingerprints or DNA, the attorneys noted.
Though a motive was not mentioned in opening statements, it emerged in testimony that the shootings of the Hortons had been preceded by the shooting earlier that night of Carter's mother, who was in a vehicle lent to her and a man by Berry.
Assistant State's Attorney LaRai Everett said in closing arguments that whoever shot up the car "wanted the people in that vehicle dead."
"Shoot my mom, I'm going to kill your family," Everett told jurors, in the hypothetical words of the defendants.
Linda Ramirez, the attorney for Carter, said Horton "has no idea who shot her. She wants to know. She wants to fill in the gaps. She wants this to be over with."
"Speculation does not belong in the courtroom," Ramirez told the jurors. "It's not your job to try to get closure or justice for Mrs. Horton."
Taylor's attorney, Elan Rafael, said eyewitness identifications are "the greatest contributor to wrongful convictions" and that it was "scary" how little evidence police and prosecutors had before charging his client.
Rafael said the Horton family wants "someone to pay at all costs."
"Convicting an innocent person is not going to ease their pain. Convicting an innocent man would be turning this tragedy into a complete travesty," he said.
After the verdict, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a statement that "street justice does not work in the court of law."
"Our prosecutors are steadfast in their efforts to pursue justice on behalf of victims and families in this city and today's verdict is proof of their commitment," she said.