COLUMBUS, Ga. — The fate of three defendants accused of murder in last spring’s deadly shooting at Peachtree Mall lies in the hands of a jury. It will take at least one more day for the jury to deliberate over evidence shown by both the prosecution and the defense. After deliberation, the jury should deliver a verdict in court Thursday.
This comes after the state and defense offered closing arguments on the eighth day of the trial. As News 3 has reported, 19-year-old Xzavaien Jones, his sister 24-year-old Tekoa Young, and 26-year-old Terrell McFarland face murder charges in connection with the death of 24-year-old Anthony Meredith. Meredith was gunned down outside the food court at Peachtree Mall March 26, 2016.
The state had two hours to deliver closing arguments in an attempt to persuade the juror to convict Jones, Young and McFarland on murder charges among others. The defense had three hours for closing arguments, one for each defendant, to argue for their clients’ innocence. The state argued that criminal gang activity should not have a place in a public setting like Peachtree Mall.
“Someone should be able to stand outside in a public place and not be shot down, killed in cold blood,” prosecutor Pete Temesgen said.
The defense took a more personal approach in their argument.
“That’s what they’re selling to y’all,” defense attorney William Kendrick said. “[Tekoa Young] is some demon or something. They’re trying to demonize this child. She’s 24-years-old.”
“The state is counting on your fear of a four letter word (gang) to paralyze you so that you will not do your duties as jurors,” defense attorney Nancy Miller added.
The defense claims there is no physical or forensic evidence linking either Young or McFarland as parties to the crime. The state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the three defendants were involved in Meredith’s murder last spring.
“This is a circumstantial case,” Miller said. “There’s no one who saw them leaving. There’s no gun that’s been linked to Mr. McFarland, no eyewitness, didn’t find anything…nothing.”
The state urged the jury to do their part to rid society of gang violence.
“Holding those accountable three by three,” Chief Deputy Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker said. “And we urge you to find all three defendants guilty of all charges.”
The jury will continue deliberating Thursday at 9 a.m.