INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - A jury deliberated less than two hours Monday before convicting a Kansas City man of first-degree murder and other charges in the killings of four people, including his former girlfriend and her two young nephews.
Some relatives of the victims sobbed in relief after the Jackson County Circuit Court jury returned the verdicts against 26-year-old Gevante Anderson, who did not testify in the trial.
Anderson was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and other crimes in the March 16, 2009, deaths of 21-year-old Precious Triplett; her boyfriend, 33-year-old Andre Jones Sr.; and Triplett's nephews, 10-year-old Amir Clemons and 7-year-old Gerard Clemons Jr.
The 16-month-old son of Anderson and Triplett was found alone in Triplett's Raytown apartment walking among the bodies when Gerard Clemons Sr. arrived at the home and discovered the killings.
Several members of the jury wiped tears from their eyes Monday afternoon as they filed out of the courtroom to begin deliberating on what they had heard and seen in the week-long trial.
In closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Tammy Dickinson said a cellphone belonging to Anderson's grandfather was traced to the area where the killings took place, on the night they occurred. She also said five witnesses had placed Anderson at the murder scene and in woods near the suburban Kansas City apartment complex.
"These heinous crimes were personal," Dickinson said. "They are very, very personal. You don't commit these kinds of crimes if you're a stranger."
Prosecutors said Jones was shot as soon as he opened the apartment door, then several more times after he fell to the floor. Dickinson said Triplett was shot next as she got on her knees and begged Anderson not to kill her. She was shot seven times, including five times in the back, and was stabbed more than 20 times, most in the neck area.
Amir Clemons was shot once in the head before Anderson ran out of bullets, then was stabbed 27 times, Dickinson said. The 7-year-old Gerard "came out of nowhere," she said, and begged for his life before being stabbed 131 times.
"That little guy wouldn't die, so he just keeps stabbing and stabbing and stabbing him," Dickinson said.
Several people in the courtroom gallery, including the boys' parents, sobbed as Dickinson described the killings. She told of how a man named Rocky Bradley told investigators that Anderson had come to his home early on the morning of the slayings in a T-shirt, shorts and no shoes and confessed to the crimes.
"Precious died because she had moved on," Dickinson said. "Every single one of them were targets. Amir and Girard were targets for one reason and one reason only, because they knew him. Not only knew him but could identify him."
Anderson's attorney, Curtis Weingarner said there was no physical evidence tying his client to the crime scene, including DNA, but he said DNA found on one of the victims' cellphones connected Bradley - not Anderson - to the killings.
Weingarner said police were under pressure to solve the murders and used persuasive interrogation to help witnesses recall details they first did not include in their interviews. He cautioned jurors against convicting the wrong man just for the sake of closure.
"Rocky Bradley knows a lot of details about what happened in that apartment," Weingarner said. "Too many details."
The prosecution sent jurors out around 3:50 p.m. on an emotional note, talking about a mother who would never kiss her kids again, and a father who wouldn't be able to watch his sons play basketball. Four alternates, at least two of them visibly sobbing, were allowed to leave but admonished to avoid talking to anyone about the case or paying attention to media coverage.