--- UPDATE #3 (1:35 p.m. CDT) ---
Dennis Bendy has been found guilty of murder by a Smith County jury who heard the evidence against him in a trial over the past week. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 28.
Judge Jack Skeen will decide Bendy's sentence instead of the jury. Skeen also increased Bendy's bond from $1 million to $2 million.
BY KENNETH DEAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
The prosecution and defense begin making their closing statements this morning in the case surrounding a gang-related shooting last July that cost a 20-year-old mother her life.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham and local defense attorney Rex Thompson will argue their points to the jury to find accused shooter Dennis Bendy either innocent or guilty.
Bendy is on trial for the death of Briana Young, who was caught up in the crossfire where Bendy's gang, the Westside Rollin 60s Crips, attempted to kill a rival gang member in the Northside 5 Deuce Hoover Crips on July 30, 2013 in P.T. Cole Park on Vine Street.
After a week of testimony, the jury is scheduled to get the case for deliberations today.
--- UPDATE #1 (9:35 a.m. CDT) ---
Bingham began telling the jury about the charges and what they meant.
He said the jury should find Bendy guilty of murder, though it was Elisha Williams' bullet that actually hit Briana Young in the chest.
Bingham said the case was about gang violence and turf wars and it was a part of life most residents in Tyler do not see.
"Today is Briana and her son's day so you should find him guilty of murder," he said.
Bingham said the Tyler police worked tirelessly in the case and did not give up.
"They didn't give up, so don't you give up. These streets belong to you and not to the gangs," he said.
--- UPDATE #2 (11:45 a.m. CDT) ---
"Bendy is the whole reason this happens. Bendy is the reason (Ms. Young) is dead," Bingham said. "Why? Because he wanted to get back at K.J. (the rival gang member who they were after)."
Bingham thanked the jury for their attention to the case and for their service.
Thompson addressed the jury, saying first that the closing arguments were not to be considered as evidence and he asked the jury to find Bendy not guilty.
"What happened at P.T. Cole Park on July 30, 2013 was a tragedy. A pure senseless tragedy. It should enrage you that sort of thing happens right here," he said.
Thompson said it should also make the jury ask questions as to who was really responsible.
"Sympathy for Briana Young comes after you review the case," he said.
Thompson said the state has actually proven that Bendy did not fire the shot that killed Ms. Young, but he asked if Bendy was even at the park at the time of the shooting.
Thompson said there was no testimony saying Bendy was at the park shooting the gun.
Thompson said Rakheem "Boobie" Goldstein, Bendy 's fellow gang member, should not be held as a truthful witness, because he had admitted to lying repeatedly during the case to help himself as mush as possible in the case.
"Rakheem is in it for Rakheem," he said.
Thompson said many of the state's witnesses were not reliable witnesses because their stories didn't add up, or in some cases they were co-defendants looking to make a deal to help themselves.
Thompson said Stephen "Sticky" Widemon was given a promise he would not be prosecuted for murder for providing the guns in the case if he testified.
Thompson said Goldstein's testimony was so unreliable that "if he told me it was daytime, I'd walk outside to check." As for another witness, Thompson said, "he was so high that night, he was looking down on the moon."
"I am asking you to find Dennis Bendy not guilty of all charges, because he state has not proven its case," he said.