A Rock Island County jury deliberated about five hours Friday before finding Yolanduis L. McDuffie guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Rock Island tattoo artist Derek Jackson.
The jury of seven men and five women rejected prosecutors’ theory that the 24-year-old McDuffie was the person who pulled the trigger.
They did, however, believe that Jackson was killed while McDuffie and his co-defendant, Aaron D. Henderson II, were committing a robbery.
It’s the same verdict Henderson, 24, himself received in 2015.
McDuffie showed little reaction as Judge Frank Fuhr read the verdict.
"I think he's calm," Nate Nieman, one of McDuffie's defense attorneys, said after the verdict. "We talked about all the different possibilities. I'm sure that anybody in his position is going to be shocked, regardless of the outcome because it's not something you go through every day."
Nieman said he plans to file a motion for a new trial within the next 30 days. The motion for a new trial will essentially lay the groundwork for an appeal, he said.
Jackson’s mother, Susan Poe of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, said she that Friday's verdict is something that she and her family have been waiting for.
She said she would have liked to have seen someone convicted of firing the gun that killed Jackson.
However, Poe said that “one huge thing is he’s going to be off the street … he can’t do it again.”
Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said Friday that he was satisfied with the verdict.
“We still believe that we had proved that Yolanduis McDuffie was the shooter,” he said. “However, we respect the jury’s decision here and we are satisfied with the results.”
Assistant state’s attorneys John McCooley and Heidi Weller tried the case.
A sentencing date has not yet been set. McDuffie faces 20 to 60 years in prison.
Jackson, 24, was killed just before noon on Dec. 18, 2013, at his home at 1001 16th Avenue in Rock Island. He was shot twice in the head and once in the arm.
He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Prosecutors argued at trial, which began Monday with jury selection, that he was killed during a drug deal gone wrong.
Henderson’s cousin, Kamren L. Bolden, testified in Henderson’s 2015 trial that they and McDuffie had gone to Jackson’s house that morning to buy marijuana.
Once inside the house, McDuffie pulled out a black gun and ordered everyone to get on the floor, Bolden testified.
He testified in 2015 that he saw a silver gun in Jackson’s hand, but did not actually see who fired the shots. Bolden testified that he heard more than one shot and that he ran out of the house and later met up with Henderson.
Weller told jurors Friday that there is no dispute that Henderson robbed Jackson.
She pointed to the testimony of Jackson’s girlfriend, Alyson Schippers, who said she saw Henderson, who she knew as “Dewey,” standing over Jackson’s body and rifling through his pockets.
Weller and McCooley told jurors that McDuffie was likely the “muscle” during the robbery.
“If he did not at least plan on robbing Derek Jackson, why did he bring a gun?” McCooley said.
Henderson was arrested later that day at the Davenport home of his girlfriend. Police seized a cellphone and $227 cash from behind a couch in the home. One of the dollar bills had Jackson’s blood.
“What does he not have?” Weller asked. “The gun, because the defendant (McDuffie) took the gun. Dewey didn’t.”
The gun, a 40-caliber Glock, was found more than a year later in a hotel room in Bettendorf. McDuffie's fingerprints were not found on the gun, according to testimony this week.
Weller also pointed to the testimony of McDuffie’s then-girlfriend, who testified this week that McDuffie, Henderson and Bolden had come to her house the afternoon of Dec. 18, 2013.
The girlfriend said that McDuffie, who had a gun in his waistband, had left and returned later to watch a movie. She said that he told her that “this might be the last time I watch a movie with you,” Weller said.
McDuffie was arrested in January 2014. A Rock Island police officer testified earlier this week that he had seized a black peacoat-style jacket from McDuffie at the time of his arrest.
McCooley pointed to surveillance video pulled from a nearby home that showed a man in a similar jacket running away with one hand inside his pocket shortly after the shooting.
The man's face was not visible on the video.
Nieman argued that there was no forensic evidence or independent eyewitnesses to tie McDuffie to the murder or to Jackson, himself.
He talked about the 911 call made by Schippers, who mentioned the names “Kam” and “Dewey,” and said that she saw two people running away from the home.
“The only credible independent eyewitness does not place him in the house or in Derek’s social orbit,” he said.
There also are no independent witnesses that placed McDuffie, Henderson and Bolden together either before or after the shooting, he argued.
“The state is left with Kam’s story, which is wholly uncorroborated and contradicted by much of the other evidence in this case,” Nieman said.
He also disputed prosecutors’ contention that this was a drug deal gone wrong and pointed again to Schippers testimony that Jackson had talked to Henderson about buying a gun from his friend the day before the shooting.
McDuffie initially was charged with first-degree murder in Jackson's death, but prosecutors dismissed the case on Jan. 6, 2015, the day his trial was scheduled to begin.
The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning charges could be refiled at any time. There is no statute of limitation for a murder charge.
Rock Island County prosecutors recharged him in August 2015 after investigators found the Glock.
McDuffie made his first appearance on the newly filed charges in December.
Henderson was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015 and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. His case is currently on appeal.
Bolden, 19, was charged with obstructing justice and served time in a juvenile prison in connection with the case.
Last year, McDuffie pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon in Scott County District Court and was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison in the April 2015 shooting death of James Goode Jr., 33, of Davenport.