A Stafford teenager who shot two people outside a county convenience store last summer was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder.
Caine “C.J.” Davis, 17, was also convicted of aggravated malicious wounding and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is facing the possibility of more than two life sentences.
The convictions stem from the July 3 shootings that killed 20-year-old Troy Barnett and badly injured Barnett’s girlfriend, 18-year-old Laura G. Gomez–De La Cruz. Two other teens, Rustam Fardin, 17, and Christopher Walters, 16, have also been charged in the shootings.
Because of Davis’ age, the jury was not allowed to recommend a sentence Wednesday, even though Davis was tried as an adult. Instead, Davis will be sentenced by Judge Charles Sharp. A sentencing date will be scheduled at a hearing next month.
Gomez–De La Cruz was the last witness put on the stand by prosecutors Jay Chichester and Ryan Frank before they rested their case on Wednesday, the third and final day of Davis’ trial.
The evidence showed that Gomez–De La Cruz was shot in the top of her head as she hovered over her dying boyfriend. Barnett was ambushed as he walked out of a North Stafford convenience store and was shot in the back of the head and in the face.
The shot to Gomez–De La Cruz’s head went through her frontal lobe and the roof of her mouth. She is missing part of her skull, but miraculously survived and was able to take the witness stand on her own and testify Wednesday.
The injury wiped out a considerable amount of her memory, and she said she didn’t even know that Barnett was dead until about two months later. She said she now remembers things prior to July 3, but not much about the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Gomez–De La Cruz said she had driven Barnett, her boyfriend of nearly a year, to a McDonald’s on Garrisonville Road (State Route 610) that night for some sort of drug deal. The would-be buyer never showed up, so she drove Barnett to the nearby 5 Twelve gas station.
The young woman said she was waiting in the car while Barnett went into the store. Suddenly, a man jumped into the car, put a gun to the back of her head and demanded money. She told him she didn’t have money.
The same man then ran up behind Barnett as he came out of the store and killed him, the evidence showed. The gunman shot Gomez–De La Cruz after she rushed to Barnett’s side.
Walters, who has pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact, testified Tuesday that Davis was the man Gomez–De La Cruz and Barnett encountered that night. Walters said that he and Fardin had parked nearby when Davis got out of the vehicle and ambushed Barnett.
The prosecution evidence showed that about a week earlier, Davis and Fardin had robbed Barnett, and that Barnett responded by posting negative things about them on social media.
The suspects responded, prosecutors said, by getting a teenage girl to set up a phony drug deal with Barnett via social media to lure him to the McDonald’s area.
Prosecutors presented phone records and text messages that supported the stories told by Walters and others. A piece of clothing with Fardin’s DNA on it was found where Walters said their vehicle had been parked, and a gun Walters told investigators had been thrown into Abel Lake was found by divers.
Davis testified Wednesday and again denied the allegations. He said he was in the Route 610 area that night smoking weed, getting food and trying to find someone to buy him alcohol. But he insisted that he had nothing to do with the shootings.
He said he was surprised by Walters’ claims because he considered Walters a trusted friend. “But now I see what he did to me, making me the scapegoat,” Davis said.
Defense attorney Jim Ilijevich attacked the credibility of key prosecution witnesses, especially Walters. He said the teen initially denied any knowledge of the incident and told varying stories up until this week.
“He’s never told the truth to anyone,” Ilijevich said. “Why believe those liars over Caine Davis?”
Ilijevich added that certain witnesses had incentives to lie, pointing out that Walters has already received a favorable disposition.
Chichester, however, argued that the testimony from prosecution witnesses was backed up by other evidence and that the case against Davis was “powerful and overwhelming.”
Davis did have a victory of sorts Wednesday when Judge Sharp threw out conspiracy and robbery charges he had been facing.