Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
The handcuffs were clasped around Davon Lymon’s wrists as the verdict was still being read, and the tearful widow of the Albuquerque officer Lymon killed was quickly surrounded by supporters who softly placed hands on her back as she wept.
A jury on Friday convicted Lymon, 38, of all six counts he was facing in state District Court in the fatal shooting of officer Daniel Webster.
The jury of 10 women and two men, after sifting through 13 days of testimony from more than 30 witnesses in less than two hours of deliberations, convicted Lymon of the first-degree murder of a police officer, which carries a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, and five other charges.
“It’s over. It’s finally over. Justice has been served,” Michelle Carlino-Webster, Webster’s widow, told the Journal in the courtroom as she embraced relatives and friends. Her supporters included former Police Chief Gorden Eden, who Carlino-Webster said attended every day of the trial, which started March 26.
The more than 3-year-old murder case wrapped up quickly Friday. Attorneys on both sides of the case gave closing arguments throughout most of the day, and the jurors began their deliberations shortly after 3 p.m. Around 4:45 p.m., it was announced they had reached a unanimous verdict.
As Judge Neil Candelaria announced the guilty verdict on the murder charge, jail officers lifted Lymon from his seat and fastened handcuffs to his wrists. That prompted the judge to ask the jailers to wait until after the rest of the charges were announced.
Lymon sat back down in cuffs and listened to the rest of the guilty verdicts against him with his hands behind his back.
It was while Webster attempted to put Lymon in handcuffs during an October 2015 traffic stop that Lymon pulled a gun and fatally shot him.
Webster, 47, had pulled Lymon over for riding a suspected stolen motorcycle. Video from the officer’s lapel camera, which was played at several points during the trial, showed that Lymon refused to listen to Webster’s commands. That prompted the officer to try to handcuff him.
Webster got the handcuffs on Lymon’s left hand. The officer then tried to latch Lymon to the motorcycle during a brief skirmish, and Lymon shot Webster multiple times. The officer died at University of New Mexico Hospital eight days later.
During the state trial, which was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office, there was never a dispute that Lymon shot and killed the officer. But he claimed self-defense.
Lymon has already been convicted in federal court for various gun and drug-related charges related to the case, and he has been sentenced to 38 years in prison.
Defense attorneys in the state case asked jurors to convict their client of manslaughter. They argued that Lymon, a black man, feared police, and he took the stand in his own defense. They said there was “sufficient provocation” for the shooting.
Prosecutors displayed a picture of the police and military veteran during their closing argument.
“He was simply trying to put that man in handcuffs. And for that he lost his life,” Clara Moran, a prosecutor, said in court.
Prosecutors ended their closing argument by playing jurors the lapel-camera video from the night Webster was fatally shot after he pulled over Lymon. The video showed Webster being shot repeatedly as he tried to gain control of Lymon. His lapel camera showed him collapse to the ground and fight for his life.
Webster’s widow and some of her supporters left the courtroom when the video was played and when Lymon’s defense attorney spoke of the fear his client had that night when he was stopped by the Albuquerque officer.
“What is this black man thinking?” defense attorney Gary Mitchell said during his closing argument as more of Webster’s supporters left the courtroom. “People get mad at me for talking about that.”
Mitchell argued that because of a variety of factors, jurors should convict Lymon of manslaughter and not murder.
After the verdict was announced, Eden, who was police chief at the time of the slaying, walked around the packed courtroom and thanked those in attendance. He also thanked the prosecutors on the case.
“They really stayed on top of this case. They did not let anything fall through the cracks. The way they presented the evidence was clear. There was no confusion ever. And I think that’s why there was such a quick verdict,” Eden said.
When Carlino-Webster left the courtroom, a line of Albuquerque police officers were waiting outside to applaud for her.
As relatives and friends hugged in court, a dispatcher announced on the police scanner that a guilty verdict had been reached.