After deliberating for more than two hours Friday afternoon, a Jefferson County Circuit Court jury found a Pine Bluff man not guilty of felony manslaughter in the death of a teenage girl, but convicted him of a lesser charge.
Kenneth Ray Burton III, 19, was found guilty of negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, after a trial that began Thursday. He was accused in the April 19, 2011, shooting death of Kadedra Washington, who was 16 and a student at Pine Bluff High School.
Burton, who had pleaded not guilty, was also found guilty of carrying a loaded weapon into a publicly owned building or facility and not guilty of carrying a weapon, also misdemeanors.
Following the jury’s recommendation, Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis sentenced Burton to six months in the county jail on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently with each other. He was also fined $1,000 on each count.
“This was a very tough case for both sides, and a very tragic set of circumstances,” Deputy Prosecutor Bryan Achorn said Friday afternoon. “The state felt like it was up to a jury to decide what Mr. Burton’s conduct warranted, the jury has made their decision and we will respect that decision.”
Achorn and Deputy Prosecutor Jill Reed represented the state and attorney Sandra Trotter-Phillips from the Public Defender’s Office represented Burton, who did not testify.
Trotter-Phillips declined to comment on the trial or the jury’s decision.
The shooting occurred at Townsend Park where Burton, Washington and her older sister, Ta’Kera Washington, had gone after picking up Kadedra Washington at school.
In a statement to police Detective Patrick Saffold, Burton claimed the shooting was an accident, saying that he and Ta’Kera Washington had been sitting in her car at Townsend Park while Kadedra Washington was outside the vehicle on the passenger side dancing.
Burton told Saffold he had the gun, a .38-Caliber Rossi revolver in his lap, and when Ta’Kera Washington touched the gun, he took it, held it outside the window, and the gun went off when his hand bounced off the window seal.
Kadedra Washington was struck by a bullet to the abdomen and in testimony Thursday, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Erickson said the gunshot wound damaged the stomach, the edge of the liver and the pancreas, resulting in major tissue damage and extensive bleeding.
After the shooting, Ta’Kera Washington and Burton put Kadedra Washington into the car and started toward Jefferson Regional Medical Center. They were stopped at the E-Z Mart on University Drive by Officer Marquis Blake, who testified Thursday that Burton took Kadedra Washington out of the car and carried her to where Blake was standing. Burton also reportedly told Blake that he did not see where the shot came from.
Detective Sgt. David DeFoor also testified Thursday that he talked to Kadedra Washington at the hospital and said she told him the shooting was an accident.
“She said ‘my sister and her friend were playing with the gun and it went off,’” DeFoor said.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, Achorn presented a certified copy of an order from juvenile court that declared Burton delinquent on a charge of felony theft of property. That order was entered Dec. 17, 2010.