Jury finds insufficient evidence to convict three in 2008 robbery, shooting
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 3, 2012 1:46 PM
Joshua Davis talks on the phone Wednesday after being released from police custody. Davis was found not guilty on first-degree murder charges related to a 2008 robbery and shooting at Brookside Convenient Mart. Family and friends waited outside the Wayne County Courthouse to greet him.
Quentin Kenon, left, kisses his mother, Priscilla, less than an hour after he was acquitted of first-degree murder.
Two words rocked a Wayne County courtroom Wednesday afternoon -- leaving one group of loved ones distraught while another celebrated.
The state had failed to meet its burden in its case against Joshua Davis, Quentin Kenon and Rashard Oliver.
The men, a jury concluded, were not guilty of first-degree murder.
Moments later, Kenon's grandmother, Emma Coleman, danced in the hallway located just outside Courtroom No. 4 while tears ran down the face of the young man's mother, Priscilla.
They knew that it would only be a matter of time before a reunion they had longed for since Quentin was charged in connection with the armed robbery and shooting that unfolded inside the Brookside Convenient Mart Aug. 18, 2008, would take place.
"I'm feeling good now," Ms. Kenon said, smiling as she wiped her eyes. "I'm just glad everything's about over with. I just thank God."
Her mood, though, was far different shortly after Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks and his counterparts made their closing arguments.
Just talking about the prospect that her son could, by day's end, be sentenced to life in prison made her ill.
"I just don't even want to think about it," she said, shortly after noon. "I just can't."
But the fear and trepidation faded quickly when a young man hurried out of the courtroom to tell her the news -- when she realized her first-born son was coming home.
And when, at just after 6 p.m., he made his way out of the courthouse, she hustled toward him -- wrapping her arms around his neck before placing her lips on his.
Joshua Davis embraced his freedom less than five minutes later -- spending his first few seconds out of custody on the phone; telling family members that he would see them soon.
"It's over," he said. "I did it."
But the ordeal did not end with the verdict for the man he sat to next during a trial that has consumed their lives for the past week.
Rashard Oliver would remain in custody, and could for the next several years -- a product of his decision to accept an Alford Plea in 2010 for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in connection with the shooting.
Fennan Kandeel fled the courtroom shortly after Special Superior Court Jack Jenkins stated, for the record, that the first of the three defendants had been vindicated.
She appeared shocked by the notion that the jury hadn't affirmed what her father, her hero, spent the last two years of his life convinced of -- that, at the very least, Kenon and Oliver were involved in the shooting that left him paralyzed.
But Ricks told the jury during his closing argument that Ribhi never believed justice would come in the courtroom.
"Prove him wrong," he said. "Prove him wrong."
Ultimately though, the 12 determined that the case against those charged -- even the man the victim picked out of a lineup -- just wasn't strong enough.
Defense attorneys George Kelly III, Mary Darrow and Randall Hughes pointed out what they characterized as weaknesses in the case.
They attacked the way the investigation was handled back in 2008 by the Goldsboro Police Department -- particularly, investigator Dwayne Dean.
They said Ribhi and his family "deserved better" -- that fingerprints should have been taken at the scene; that more leads should have been followed up on; that more evidence, including a cigarette butt, should have been collected from inside the store and analyzed for DNA.
But they chose not to celebrate publicly after the verdict was announced.
Instead, Kelly and Darrow praised Ricks and Jenkins for being "fair" -- and applauded the jury for trying so hard to make the right decision.
And Hughes took a moment to remember the man that brought him to Goldsboro in the first place -- to reach out to those loved ones who, no matter what the outcome had been Wednesday, will never be whole again.
"My feelings are for the family of Mr. Kandeel," he said.