Photo supplied, Davis County Jail
FARMINGTON — Jurors on Friday night found Michael Jameel Hines guilty of first-degree felony murder in the March 12, 2020, shooting of an 18-year-old man in his Layton home.
The jury deliberated for about seven hours before returning its verdict at 9:45 p.m. in the court of Judge David J. Williams.
In closing arguments, attorneys debated the credibility of the three men who were on the scene that night: Hines and Jeremiah Wright, who went into victim Kannon Beesley’s house, and Angelo Washington Jr., who stayed in a car.
Wright testified earlier in the trial that Hines shot Beesley as they fought over a 1-pound bag of marijuana, which broke open. Hines, however, testified Thursday that Wright moved between them during the tussle and shot Beesley.
A medical examiner testified that Beesley was shot in the armpit and the mid chest, the later wound fatal.
Davis County prosecutor Josh Wayment stressed to jurors that Wright, Washington and Beesley were close friends, while Beesley did not know Hines well. “They had no reason to rob him, to kill him,” Wayment said. “They loved him.”
Hines, though, had motives, Wayment said: “He had no car, no job, no money and no place to live.” The bag of marijuana was worth about $800, Hines testified under questioning Thursday.
Hines also deleted his Facebook account after the shooting and was making arrangements to get a bus ticket back to his hometown, Decatur, Illinois, the prosecutor said.
Wayment said Hines “has gone to great lengths to overcome A.J.’s statement.” That was in reference to Angelo Washington Jr.’s statement to police on the day after the murder that Hines told him he had shot Beesley.
After prosecutors had Washington arrested to ensure his testimony in the trial, Hines and Washington were both housed in the Davis County Jail. Wayment said Hines called a relative of Washington’s from jail asking for help to get Washington transferred into Hines’ jail pod. In a recording of one of the conversations, Hines said, “I need him (Washington) on my side or it’s going to get real ugly.”
Wayment also reminded jurors of testimony from Beesley’s mother. She said her son told her, “Jeremiah’s brother shot me.” Hines is not related to Wright, but he is Washington’s cousin. Wayment said the evidence showed Wright and Hines were the only other people in the room.
Defense attorney Jonathan Nish urged jurors to consider the “contradictory and self-serving” testimony of Washington and Wright, and he pointed out that both were given immunity before testifying.
“The first one to tell the story to the police frames the story, and that was Jeremiah,” Nish said.
“There is some real serious doubt that Michael was the shooter in the case,” Nish said. He asked the jury to consider why Wright ran back into Beesley’s house after first running out. “Why run back in?” Nish asked. “To retrieve the murder weapon to later get rid of it?” The gun was never found.
Wright testified he went back in to help Beesley, but then left again, frightened about the events.
Wayment countered that Hines also had plenty of opportunity to dispose of the murder weapon after going back to his girlfriend’s house in North Salt Lake.
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