UPDATE: Darious Lucas found guilty in double murder trial
COLUMBIA - Jurors returned a guilty verdict Thursday for Darious Lucas in a double murder case.
Lucas was convicted on two counts of first degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action in the September 2015 deaths of James Richardson of Columbia and Kenneth Long of Mexico. Witness testimony from earlier in the week described the murder as a disputed drug deal.
Court began Thursday with jurors hearing closing arguments from prosecutors and the defense.
The state had shown jurors rap lyrics they said were written by Lucas shortly after he was first arrested on drug charges in October, 2015. The lyrics described a double murder, named the same type of bullets that were used to kill Richardson and Long and detailed shooting people in the head and back, the same places Richardson and Long were shot.
The state’s attorney argued the lyrics are Lucas’ confession to the crimes, and revealed details about the murder scenes they say Lucas couldn’t have known about if he wasn’t the killer.
However, the defense countered that Lucas was aware he was a suspect in the double murder investigation at the time he wrote the rap lyrics, and therefore he wrote the lyrics just to get out some of his feelings.
The defense called Dustin Hildebrand to the stand to testify as a good friend of James Richardson. Hildebrand lived in Mexico with Richardson and worked for him at a tree cutting company. However, Hildebrand also collaborated that Richardson was involved in drug dealing.
Hildebrand said, in his time knowing Richardson and working with him, it was uncharacteristic for Richardson to do drug deals in abandoned places or at odd hours of the night.
The prosecution’s closing argument focused on portraying Lucas as untrustworthy, pointing out the discrepancies in stories he told law enforcement about his whereabouts on the night of the murders. It also focused on the testimony of David Clark and Nelson Barnes from earlier in the week. Both were behind bars at the same time as Lucas, and told law enforcement about details in the murders of before those details were released to the public, prosecutors said. The state argued the only reason those men knew those details were because Lucas told them, and Lucas only knew because he was the killer.
The defense countered by saying there's no solid evidence tying Lucas to the scene of the crime, and therefore the jurors can not say beyond reasonable doubt he committed the crimes. The defense argument was there are too many assumptions being made in the case. The defense attorney also attempted to undermine the credibility of David Clark and Nelson Barnes as witnesses.