Terence Clyde Gray, 32, was found guilty in Anchorage Superior Court on Thursday of second-degree murder for shooting Edwing Matos to death at the Dimond Center in February 2010, the bloody conclusion to a dispute over a stolen PlayStation.
Jurors acquitted Gray of a first-degree murder charge, as well as attempted first-degree murder and two assault charges. They came to a decision in a little more than a day.
Despite the multiple not guilty verdicts, assistant district attorney Adam Alexander said the single guilty verdict was an "enormous relief" and left Matos' family "extremely pleased." Gray's public defender Brendan Kelley had argued his client shot Matos in self-defense. Under Alaska law, if the jury were to accept that claim, Gray would have been acquitted of all charges.
Alexander said Gray faces a maximum sentence of 99 years, but the general range for second-degree murder is 20 to 30 years.
The Anchorage courtroom was packed full of the victim's family and friends. Some fidgeted before Superior Court Judge Jack Smith read the verdicts; Kelley rested his hand on Gray's shoulder as the judge asked the defendant to stand. There was a marked silence as count one, the first-degree murder charge, was read. But when Smith delivered the jury's guilty verdict (on the second-degree murder charge), the family let out a sigh of relief.
Dennis Johnson, Matos' uncle who was with him at the mall during the shooting, said after the hearing that the jury recognized Gray's actions were not in self-defense.
"As a family, this is what we all needed," Johnson said.
He added their decision highlights the fact that there was nothing nefarious going on with the planned meetup among the men. Kelley had argued Johnson and Matos intended to hurt Gray and had threatened him in the days leading up to the mall shooting. Alexander said during closing arguments that Johnson was simply present to ensure nothing bad happened.
Unfortunately, something bad did happen, though the prosecutor said it could have been worse. Alexander argued Gray intended to kill Johnson, too, but his gun jammed. That accusation was the basis of the state's attempted first-degree murder charge.
Sentencing was set for November 24.