A man who confessed to shooting a 77-year-old man has been found not guilty of murder by a South Carolina jury.
After his arrest in connection with the 2017 shooting, Devon Dunham told police that he killed former Hardeeville volunteer fire chief Ernest Stevens.
Despite that admission, the jury took less than two hours to find Dunham not guilty, according to the Island Packet.
Dunham breathed a sigh when the verdict was read and reportedly fist-bumped his attorney.
The shooting took place in a parking lot in Hardeeville on Aug. 10, 2017.
Dunham, who lived in Hardeeville at the time, was arrested the next day in Savannah, Georgia. In a post-arrest interview, he admitted to shooting Stevens.
He was tried on charges of murder and possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
Nineteen witnesses were called over the two days of the trial.
Because Dunham was not found guilty of murder, the second charge became moot.
During closing arguments, 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone claimed Dunham thought of Stevens as an easy mark while Dunham was looking for a ride.
“He sees a target,” Stone said. “A 77-year-old man alone with a running truck. What great fortune for Devon Dunham, a vulnerable elderly man by himself.”
He claimed Dunham demanded the truck and put all eight rounds there were in his 9mm handgun into the older man when Stevens sought to leave.
“He shot Mr. Stevens because he was losing his ride,” Stone claimed.
Dunham’s defense attorney, Jeffery Stephens, said Stevens acted in a threatening manner, prompting the shooting.
Stephens brushed aside the statement Dunham made to police by saying said his client “is not the best communicator.”
He also claimed the comment came after being chained in an interview room for six hours while being “sleep-deprived.”
A race-based argument was advanced but the judge refused to allow it to continue after the prosecution objected.
Dunham’s lack of “intent to harm means it’s not murder,” Stephens said.
South Carolina law requires “malice aforethought, either express or implied” to prove a murder was committed.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.