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D.A. ends losing streak but defense also happy with verdict

Prosecutors and defense attorneys all smiled after a jury returned from two days of deliberations with their verdict in a murder trial.
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 9:36 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Prosecutors and defense attorneys all smiled after a jury returned from two days of deliberations with their verdict in a murder trial.

Instead of finding Deonte Gilmore guilty as charged, those jurors convicted him of manslaughter, a less serious offense, on Thursday.

“We think it is a win for us,” said Scott Smith who, along with his father, Tom Smith, represents Gilmore.

Instead of facing life, the maximum sentence Gilmore can receive is 20 years. Houston County Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton will sentence him in a few weeks.

The verdict also delights Pat Jones, Houston County’s District Attorney, whose office has endured a string of embarrassments.

Until Gilmore’s manslaughter conviction, all four murder trials in the county this year ended with not guilty verdicts.

Jones said the verdict in Gilmore’s case gives him personal satisfaction, especially after his prosecutors obtained five other convictions last week in unrelated cases involving other crimes.

Reacting to Gilmore’s conviction, Jones said, “The facts merited the verdict.”

Perhaps it did.

Manslaughter is the middle ground between murder and innocence. The jury believed both Gilmore and the victim, 20-year-old D’Travieon Barnes, shared blame in an unfortunate shooting.

On November 30, 2021, a large crowd of 100 or more attended a party in Ashford. During a wild night that included drug usage, tensions escalated between Gilmore and Barnes, per testimony.

That led to a physical confrontation that ended when Gilmore shot Barnes.

District Attorney Pat Jones praised his assistant, Mark Johnson, and Houston County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Chris Summerlin for their work on Gilmore’s case.

As for the Smiths, this marks the first time the father and son duo has tried a murder trial as a team.

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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