Jurors find Richardson guilty in 2012 shooting death

A West Baton Rouge Parish jury deliberated for approximately two hours before convicting a 24-year-old Port Allen man of second-degree murder Thursday in the May 2012 fatal shooting of a Brusly High student.

Marcus Richardson, 24, Freeman Lane, was found guilty as charged after two days of testimony in the shooting death of Justin Warner.

Warner’s death is rooted in a longtime turf war between the Lukeville and Tombstone communities in West Baton Rouge Parish.

Richardson fatally shot Warner in the parking lot of the La. 1 Exxon Truck Plaza about 10 p.m. May 13 after Richardson got into a fight with several people at the gas station.

In his closing statements Thursday, Richardson’s attorney Tommy Damico tried to convince the jury that his client shot and killed Warner in self-defense after he was brutally attacked in the parking lot by two other men. Warner was not involved in the fight.

Damico was seeking a conviction of manslaughter for Richardson, which would have carried a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

“Marcus was on the ground and couldn’t protect himself,” Damico told the jury Thursday morning. “When a person is brutally attacked by someone for no apparent reason ... a reasonable man will lose self-control. We know he was forced to reach for the gun or the beatings would have continued.”

Damico painted Warner as a kid who was “running with the wrong crowd” that was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time when he was killed.

But Assistant District Attorneys Scott Chabert and Tony Clayton reminded jurors that surveillance footage from the gas station showed that Richardson pulled out his gun and fired off several shots in the air — stopping the fight — before he sought Warner out in the gas station’s parking lot and fatally shot him four times.

Attorneys said Warner and one of the men Richardson was fighting had on similar colored shirts.

“When he fired those two shots, it should have been over,” Chabert said in his closing argument “(Richardson) took the law in his own hands. Marcus searched the area until he found the only one left … and killed him in cold blood.”

Clayton later added, “The defense is up here begging you all to give (Richardson) manslaughter. When Justin was begging Marcus for his life, he gave him death!”

Richardson is set to return to court on Sept. 9 for sentencing. Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter @tjonesreporter.