An 18-year-old Fort Wayne man was convicted Thursday in the August shooting death of a teenager over a marijuana deal.
A jury deliberated for about three hours before convicting Kevin Hamilton of murder, felony murder, robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a crime. He will be sentenced April 11 in Allen Superior Court.
Hamilton killed Brian Quintana on Aug. 14 while robbing him of a large bag of marijuana.
Hamilton and a friend had planned to rob Quintana, 18, because he had supposedly shorted the friend in a previous marijuana sale. The friend arranged for Hamilton to take him to the apartments where Quintana lived and told Hamilton to bring a gun.
When Hamilton got into Quintana’s car with a gun in his hand, Quintana fought with him over the gun. Hamilton managed to get out of the car with the gun, then his friend started fighting with Quintana over a bag of marijuana. During that struggle, his friend yelled "Shoot!" and Hamilton shot into the car through the back window, hitting Quintana, who died a few hours later.
Hamilton’s friend is being prosecuted as a juvenile.
Defense lawyer John Bohdan argued in closing statements that Hamilton had decided the robbery was a bad idea and abandoned the effort when he got out of the car. Bohdan also said Hamilton never intended to hit anyone when he fired his gun. He just hoped the bang would end the fight going on inside the car between his friend and Quintana. Bohdan asked the jury to convict Hamilton of reckless homicide.
The prosecution called that proposal insulting. Once you start a robbery, you’re responsible for everything that happens, Deputy Prosecutor Steve Godfrey said.
Godfrey also said that text messages sent between Hamilton and his friend hours before the robbery show the real Hamilton. He was willing to take part in the robbery. "It sounds easy. Let’s do it," he texted. He noted that Quintana wouldn’t be armed and said if he was with someone else they could rob both of them. "They won’t do anything. I know where they live."
After the verdict was handed down, Godfrey said it was the texts that made the difference. Hamilton sugarcoated the whole affair when he talked to police. The texts were unnerving and revealed who Hamilton really is, he said.