Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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February 3, 2007

Jury acquits Winston of murder

Willie Winston walked out of Howard Circuit Court Thursday evening with a smile.

A jury acquitted him of murdering 24-year-old DeMarco Moore after deliberating 31/2 hours.

Throughout the four-day trial, Winston maintained he shot Moore on Jan. 27, 2006, out of self-defense.

With their decision, jurors agreed Winston was justified in shooting Moore near Markland Avenue and U.S. 31, one of Kokomo’s busiest intersection.

“Thank God and thank Mr. [Brent] Dechert [Winston’s defense attorney],” Winston said as he was leaving the Courthouse with about 10 friends and family members.

Several members of the victim’s family sat through the trial, but declined to comment on the verdict.

Winston took the stand earlier in the day and told jurors he had no choice but to shoot Moore after Moore came at him and his family with a gun.

Along with murder, jurors also acquitted Winston of Class C felony charges of possession of an altered handgun and criminal recklessness. They did, however, find him guilty of Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a permit, a charge Winston did not dispute.

After reading the verdict, Judge Lynn Murray allowed Winston to be released on his previous bail pending the Feb. 27 sentencing on the misdemeanor gun charge. Winston could face up to one year in jail on the handgun charge.

Winston posted $15,000 bail, 10 percent of $150,000 bail, in March after his February arrest.

Winston testified Thursday that he shot Moore twice out of fear for his life, also claiming Moore fired the first shot.

Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Peelle presented evidence that he said disputed Winston’s claim that Moore fired the first shot.

There were no shell casings found in the area of Staple’s parking lot, where witnesses saw Moore with a gun, Peelle said, adding the 9-mm handgun was later recovered by police and had not been fired.

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