KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) – A man accused of killing three people and injuring three others in a shooting in April at a bar in Wisconsin was found guilty of all charges Tuesday.
The jury returned with the sentence less than two hours, including a break for pizza, after the closing arguments in the trial of Rakayo Vinson, 25, who was charged with the death of 24-year-old Cedric Gaston; 26-year-old Atkeem Stevenson; and 22-year-old Kevin Donaldson, all from Kenosha.
Authorities said Vinson and Donaldson exchanged blows earlier in the evening at Somers House Tavern in the village of Somers. Surveillance video later shows Vinson walking to the bar’s patio and opening fire before fleeing. He exchanged shots outside the pub with Donaldson, who later died at a hospital.
Vinson was convicted of three counts of first-degree premeditated murder and three counts of attempted first-degree premeditated murder. It was reported by Kenosha News. Each indictment carries a mandatory prison sentence of life.
“There are three (life sentences) and three 60-year sentences,” Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said after the verdict was announced. “From my perspective, the jury made the right decision based on the facts we have.”
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Suspected arrested, victims identified in lethal bar shooting in Kenosha County
Members of the families of the victims sat in tears in court as the verdicts were read. Outside the courtroom after the trial, they thanked Graveley and his team for successfully conducting the case.
Graveley said he will request that Vinson never be released from prison. A verdict is set for March 28.
Graveley said during his closing argument Tuesday that Vinson was out for revenge. He said Vinson delivered the first blow.
“The pattern of his decisions during this night is to be as aggressive as possible, that every little thing should be a fight or struggle, and every fight should be escalated by the defendant,” Graveley told the jury.
Vinson’s attorney, Donald Bielski, said in his 30-minute closing that Vinson was not the aggressor and that he fired his weapon in self-defense.
“On the evening of April 17 and 18, he did not indict or commit first-degree premeditated murder,” Bielski told the jury. “But for their own actions, Cedric Gaston, Atkeem Stevenson and Kevin Donaldson would be alive today.”
Justin Haymond, Jordan Momani and Kevin Serratos were injured but survived. Vinson was arrested in Mount Pleasant after stealing a car from friends who dropped him off after returning the vehicle.
Vinson repeatedly quarreled with Judge Bruce Schroeder during the Bielski trial and demanded a new lawyer. Vinson was removed from the courtroom Thursday for disturbing outbursts. He later changed his mind and chose to be represented by Bielski.
Suggest a correction