BREAKING: On Wednesday night at 8:50 a Boone County jury found Casey Lewis of Columbia guilty of first degree murder.
The jury deliberated for approximately five hours before returning with a guilty verdict.
Witness testimony wrapped up in a Columbia murder trial Wednesday afternoon.
Casey Lewis is accused of murdering Brian Daniels in 2013 at his house is south Columbia.
Jury deliberations began just before 4:00 Wednesday afternoon.
The state argued Thompson hired Casey Lewis as a hit man.
Glenn Anderson, James Thompson’s best friend, took the stand Wednesday saying Thompson told him he had Lewis shoot Daniels three times, something only a person who was there would have known since two of the bullet wounds were on his head and covered by hair.
The defense worked Wednesday to discredit that witness.
The defense said Lewis was there visiting friends and if he was a hired hit man he wouldn’t have gone to parties and been seen around town. The defense also pointed out there is still no physical evidence that puts Lewis at Daniels’ home.
The state came back, though, saying Lewis must be a very unlucky man that the few days he’s in town with his best friends, his best friend decides to murder someone and phone records put him in Columbia that night against what he said.
The defense brought in several law enforcement officers who all said they did not see Lewis with Thompson when Thompson was seen driving by the crime scene several days after the murder.
The state argued Lewis of course would not be there days after the murder because he was a hired hit man.
Nearly 30 witnesses took the stand in the trial.
In court Tuesday, the focus was mainly placed on the relationship between Brian Daniels and James Thompson, who was already convicted for hiring a hitman to kill Daniels.
The prosecutor said the two worked together to shoot Daniels three times.
Anderson also told Anderson about the money, car, and gun he gave Lewis in exchange.
The defense argued that Thompson is a liar and a con artist even to his best friend.
The first witness to talk in depth about Casey Lewis Tuesday was Detective Joe Jackson with the Columbia Police. Jackson was the first person to question Lewis about Daniels’ murder.
Jackson testified Lewis was surprised when Jackson told him Thompson had told on him about Daniels’ murder. Jackson told the court that was an interrogation tactic, and that Thompson didn’t actually turn on Lewis.
Jackson said Lewis told him he was in Columbia in April because Thompson owed him a car, and Thompson drove down to Oklahoma to pick him up.
Lewis also told Jackson he left town at midnight on April 9th.
However, the state said cell phone records show Lewis’ phone still in Columbia until 4 a.m.
Jackson said Lewis’ statements did not match what other witnesses said happened.
The detective on the stand just before 5:00 p.m. said Lewis complimented him on his good detective work regarding this case.
The defense argues that could have been a sarcastic statement made by Lewis.
The defense was pushing that there was no evidence yet putting Lewis at Daniels’ house the night of the murder.
The defense also said even when Lewis’ car was searched in Oklahoma there was nothing belonging to Daniels inside.
Witnesses Tuesday said the bullet used to kill Daniels was a .22, not a .45 which was found in Lewis’ car in Oklahoma.
A panel of 120 people went through a 6 hour jury selection process Monday.
Witnesses were called to the stand Monday night.
The state started by saying Casey Lewis was a hit man in Daniels’ murder.
The defense opening statement was much longer, and focused on the fact that Lewis lived in Oklahoma and Thompson acted alone.
The phrase “Thompson acted alone” was repeated by Lewis’ defense attorney at least a dozen times during opening statements.
The defense also focuses on the alleged murder weapon. The defense said Thompson gave Lewis a semi-automatic weapon, but Daniels was killed with a revolver that was stolen by Thompson.
A deputy from Oklahoma took the stand early Monday night, talking about when he arrested Lewis on separate charges.
Judge Gary Oxenhandler set the sentencing date for Lewis on April 10.