A Cole County jury deliberated a little more than three hours Thursday afternoon before coming back with a guilty verdict after a three-day trial of a Jefferson City man charged in the shooting death of another Jefferson City man on New Year's Day 2017.
Jeffery Millens Jr., 25, was found guilty on felony charges of second-degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and armed criminal action.
The victim, Quonterio Davis, 23, died after being shot multiple times in the torso in a residence in the 900 block of East Capitol Avenue.
Judge Dan Green polled the jury, asking each member individually if this was their verdict, and all 12 responded with a statement of "yes."
During closing arguments Thursday afternoon, Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson said this was a crime of petty jealousy. Authorities said both men had a child with one of the women who was at a party where the shooting occurred.
"Only one person at that party had the motive, had the reason to kill Quonterio Davis," Thompson said. "The defendant didn't like Quonterio, he didn't like that he was dating his ex, he didn't like that Quontario and his ex were getting ready to have a baby, and he didn't like that Quonterio was spending time with his young son. He knew exactly what he was doing that night, he showed up to that house, he knew Quonterio was there, he didn't like how the fight was going, and he didn't like that it was broken up so he pulled out a gun, and he ended it for good right there."
Millens took the stand in his own defense Wednesday and admitted he was at the party but said he had seen three other people get into a fight and didn't know who they were. When he heard shots, he said, he joined the rest of the people who were at the party and fled the residence.
The jury had heard calls Millens made to the 911 Center claiming he was getting death threats about shooting someone, but he didn't know anything about a shooting. He also said he didn't understand why he needed to speak to an officer face-to-face instead of just doing so over the phone.
"He knew he committed a murder, and he knew they had him dead to rights," Thompson said.
Millens' attorney, Adam Cartwright, argued the only thing that had been proven about his client during this trial was he was at the residence the night the shooting occurred. He noted that on the mugshot taken of Millens after he was arrested a few hours after the shooting, he had no marks on his face that would indicate he had been in a fight, and no blood was ever found on the clothes he was wearing that night.
"We heard testimony about how gun residue burst from a gun's muzzle and could cover multiple people," Cartwright said. "There were several people in that residence and they began running out, fighting for their lives, after the shots rang out. Where do you think any piece of debris could have landed? The only person that was ever tested for gun residue, who was at that party, was my client."
As to why Millens made different statements on the night of the shooting to the 911 operators, Cartwright said, "Jeffrey Millens was a black male receiving death threats from people he didn't know. Now if Mr. Millens was in a room where somebody was shot and now you're receiving death threats, imagine what your mindset would be.
"In order for Quonterio Davis to receive justice, justice in the truest sense is getting what one deserves in accordance with reality," Cartwright concluded. "Reality in this case is that Jeffrey Millens did not shoot Quonterio Davis that night. The reality is that Jeffrey Millens was an innocent bystander of a tragedy."
Cole County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Fox told the jury Millens was a "murderer caught in his own lies."
"This is a case of consciousness of guilt," Fox said. "If you are present at a party and you saw a significant event — a man has been shot to death — will you lie about all the different events you do that evening, including saying you weren't there? Then you fish for information about what the authorities know. If you are an innocent person, you contact the police, you tell what you know and here's how you can contact me. That didn't happen here."
Green allowed Cartwright to have extra time to file his motion for a new trial. Millens is scheduled to be back in Green's court in January.