Two Convicted in Delaware Soccer Field Shootings - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Two Convicted in Delaware Soccer Field Shootings

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Two gang members who prosecutors say were out to avenge a friend's death and to silence a witness to an earlier killing were convicted of murder Friday in a 2012 soccer tournament shooting in Wilmington that left three people dead.

A New Castle County jury deliberated about 20 hours over three days before finding Otis Phillips, 38, and Jeffrey Phillips, 23, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of tournament organizer Herman Curry, 47.

The two defendants, who are not related, also were convicted of manslaughter in the death of soccer player Alexander Kamara, 16, who was struck in the head as shots rang out at Wilmington's Eden Park on July 8, 2012.

Otis Phillips also was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2008 killing of Christopher Palmer, a friend of Curry.

Prosecutors, who huddled with relatives of the victims after the verdict, have said they plan to seek the death penalty. The penalty phase of the trial starts Dec. 1.

Family members and prosecutors declined to comment afterward. Anthony Figliola, an attorney for Otis Phillips, said he appreciated that jurors appeared to deliberate thoughtfully.

According to prosecutors, the defendants were members of a criminal street gang known as the Sure Shots and were out to avenge a friend's killing earlier that day. They also said Otis Phillips wanted to silence Curry so that he could not testify against him in Palmer's killing.

Witnesses testified that Otis Phillips walked up to Curry on the soccer field, tapped him on the shoulder, told him he was going to die, then shot him three times. Authorities said Jeffrey Phillips shot into the crowd, killing Kamara, as he and Otis Phillips tried to escape.

The two suspects were found hiding in a nearby backyard, with Jeffrey Phillips suffering from a gunshot wound in the leg, after the car in which they were riding crashed. Sheldon Ogle, 43, a cousin of Otis Phillips, was found fatally shot in the driver's seat of the car after being hit by return gunfire from soccer spectators, according to authorities.

Prosecutor Ipek Medford told jurors in her closing argument that ballistics evidence tied the gun used by Jeffrey Phillips to both the Eden Park shootings and to the scene of a shooting earlier that day in which Kirt Williams, 28, a close friend of Jeffrey Phillips and the brother of Otis Phillips' girlfriend, died.

Williams was killed at a graduation party hosted by a Jamaican family at an unlicensed dance club. Prosecutors say Jeffrey Phillips began spraying bullets outside the party after Williams was shot, and that members of the Sure Shots then plotted to go after Curry, a well-known member of Wilmington's Jamaican immigrant community, in revenge.

Prosecutors said Otis Phillips also had another incentive to want Curry dead: At the time of the soccer shootings, Otis Phillips was wanted in the killing of Palmer, who was shot at a club where a birthday party for Curry was being held. Authorities say Curry, who called 911 after Palmer was shot, identified Otis Phillips as the shooter.

Attorneys for both Jeffrey Phillips and Otis Phillips tried to discredit several witnesses who testified against the defendants, including three Sure Shots members who were given probation after pleading guilty to participating in a criminal gang and agreeing to testify.

In addition to murder and manslaughter, the two defendants were convicted of several other charges, including gang participation, conspiracy, assault, reckless endangering and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

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