*** UPDATE THURSDAY 10:56 P.M. ***Not guilty was verdict not many saw coming. The teen accused of shooting into a packed Chuck E. Cheese’s in Columbia left a free man Thursday night. A jury found James Miller not guilty on all three charges of a gang crime that riddled the children’s restaurant with bullets. The case really came down to the credibility of the star witness in this, Miller’s good friend and cousin, Steffon White. White was once accused of being involved in this case and arrested for a different shooting, but then joined the prosecution as a witness.Prosecutors cut a deal with White for him to testify in this case, something he said has him labeled as a snitch. The defense used that as a tactic to tarnish what he said and was able to poke holes in his story.Thursday prosecutors also highlighted cell phone evidence backing White’s version of the story which had put Miller in the car suspected in the shooting, but the defense argued it could only track where a person was within about a three mile radius. That meant prosecutors couldn’t actually prove if Miller was even in the car, or near the Chuck E. Cheese’s that night. Thursday it was expected Malcom Redmon, the man who was shot at, would testify but the defense never put him on stand and didn’t specify why. They said the state had a hard case and there was simply too much reasonable doubt. “There wasn’t a verdict of innocence returned today; it was a verdict of not guilty. And I am not commenting on Mr. Miller or any other criminal defendant’s guilt or innocents, simply that the state didn’t meet their Burdern today,” said Defense Attorney David Wallis.”You know we are going to continue to try the difficult cases, and we are taking the gun violence in the community very seriously. And all the shootings that are happening, it’s just unfortunate that the witness that we had was a co-defendant,” said Boone County Prosecutor Andrea Hayes. The jury only deliberated for about 30 minutes before finding a verdict. ***UPDATE 1:42 P.M.***Miller was found not guilty on all three counts. He was charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and firing a gun from inside a vehicle.***UPDATE 12:38 P.M.***Closing arguments finished around noon, and the case is now with the jury.***ORIGINAL STORY***It has been a year since bullets riddled a packed Chuck E. Cheese’s in Columbia. James T. Miller was 16 at the time, but on Wednesday he went to court as an adult for his role as alleged gunman. Police said he attempted to shoot a man inside the restaurant during a child’s birthday party. On Wednesday, a witness also connected the shooting to several other gang-related crimes last spring.Miller’s cousin, Steffon White, testified against him. ABC 17 News found a lot of the people involved in his story are currently behind bars as suspects in various shootings and even a murder.White said his brother, Larrell Banks, drove Miller that night. White was inside Chuck E. Cheese’s with Durantrae Logan at the time. Both are currently in jail for a separate murder last spring.White talked about the intended victim in this case, Malcom Redmon, and how he and Redmon belong to two different groups who did not like each other.He said Miller and Redmon had been in a shooting at Southside Pizza days before this event. White also said Miller had a .45-caliber gun after the Chuck E. Cheese’s shooting, which is also the same kind of shells found on the scene.White also claimed Miller said he was “mad he didn’t hit Harp”, which is the slang name for Redmon.The defense tried to poke holes in White’s testimony Wednesday. They pointed out inconsistencies he told police and even got White to admit everyone lies, including him.The defense really tried to tarnish White’s credibility. The biggest thing they kept going back to was the fact that White took a plea deal for his role in another shooting so he could testify in this case.
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