Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mormon Missionary Shooter Found Guilty of First- Degree Murder

A jury has found James Boughton guilty of killing Morgan W. Young and wounding Joshua Heidbrink, two Mormon missionaries shot nearly three years ago while proselytizing door-to-door in the city.

The jury returned the verdicts Friday night against James Boughton Jr., 22, after deliberating more than two days in Chesapeake Circuit Court.

Judge Randy Smith asked the jury to return Monday morning for the sentencing phase of the trial. The jury found Boughton guilty of first-degree murder, malicious wounding, attempted malicious wounding and three counts of use of a firearm. Boughton, faces the possibility of life in prison.

Boughton, in suit and tie, stood in court as the verdict was read, with no outward sign of emotion. He was 19, a recent graduate from Deep Creek High School, at the time of his arrest for the crime.

Young and Heidbrink were in the Deep Creek section of Chesapeake proselytizing the night of Jan. 2, 2006, as a violent neighborhood dispute was unfolding. A hooded gunman had attempted to shoot an Elkhart Street resident, Gregory Banks Jr., and was fleeing the area when he crossed paths with the missionaries.

The missionaries assured the approaching gunman that they hadn't seen anything, according to court testimony. The gunman, armed with a 9 mm gun, shot them both and fled. Young, 21, of Bountiful, Utah, died of a wound to the head. Heidbrink, then 19, from Greeley, Colo., managed to go for help at the nearby Charity House.

Commonwealth's Attorney Nancy Parr and Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney D.J. Hansen used DNA evidence and the testimony of a Chesapeake teen to link Boughton to the crime. The surviving victims, Heidbrink and Banks, were unable to identify the hooded gunman.

Boughton's defense attorney, Andrew Sacks, argued his client was at a friend's house in Camelot playing video games the night of the shootings. He produced several witnesses who supported the alibi. Sacks argued in court that the real shooter that night was Mario Felton, a 17-year-old who was feuding with Banks over $80 in drug money. Felton initially told police he was the one who fired the 9 mm weapon three times that night, but later told police he made the story up to cover for Boughton.

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