Verdict in Alexus Rankins murder case

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - After nearly four hours of deliberations, a jury convicted four members of a Lake Charles family guilty on all counts.

The Newton's were arrested after 14-year-old Alexus Rankins was shot and killed.

The jury began deliberating at 4pm Tuesday afternoon in the case of Sean Newton, his brother Brandon and their parents Nina and Rodney. Sean was convicted of first degree murder, while other family members were convicted of other offenses including trying to help cover up what really happened.

Earlier the defense and prosecution made closing arguments.

Defense attorneys recalled various witnesses in order to try to hone in on inconsistencies in testimony and suggest that the whole scene the night of Alexus Rankins' murder was a chaotic situation and that police never really were able to figure out what happened, and that was the theme of sorts of defense closing arguments.  Attorney Todd Lemons, who represents Nina and Rodney Newton told jurors it was a case of overzealous prosecution and that the eye witnesses were all liars saying whatever the state wanted in order to get their charges dropped by the state.

Earlier, Charles St. Dizier - who represents alleged shooter Sean Newton - said nothing was clear about what happened that night and that it was even possible Alexus Rankins was killed by a bullet from someone in the crowd that had gathered at Dixy and Creole Street.
Said St. Dizier, the testimony didn't pass the smell test. The state says Sean killed Rankins in a drive by shooting when he fired into a crowd of people, and attorney Thad Minaldi argued whether you believe the state's witnesses or not the proof is there that Brandon Newton is innocent.

On rebuttal, prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth expressed outrage at various defense statements saying that St. Dizier wanted them to believe a fairy tale to suggest there was some phantom shooter in the crowd.  Killingsworth said inconsistencies were minor and not relevant and urged jurors to use their common sense and not get distracted by unimportant things.  Killingsworth said everyone said the shooter was the driver of the car which Sean Newton was driving.
With regard to overzealous prosecution, she said she's doing her job to protect the public and serve and representing a child - Alexus Rankins - who now will never get to grow up.

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