After several days of testimony and about 45 minutes of deliberations, a Scott County jury was convinced Deondra Thomas fatally shot 46-year-old Jason Roberts outside a downtown Davenport bar in June.
The jury of seven men and five women on Wednesday found the 37-year-old Davenport man guilty of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm or offensive weapon by a felon.
Thomas shook his head and looked at family seated behind him in the gallery.
Roberts’ family and friends, packed on one side of the courtroom gallery, exhaled loudly and cried as Judge Stuart Werling read the verdicts aloud.
Roberts' sister-in-law, Shelli Allen, told reporters “we believe the right person was tried and convicted and we are very pleased with the outcome.”
“We appreciate the jury’s time and are grateful for their verdict,” she said in a statement she read on behalf of the family.
Allen thanked Scott County Attorney Mike Walton, First Assistant County Attorney Amy DeVine, detectives who investigated the case, and those who came forward during the investigation.
“While justice has been served, it will not bring our sweet Jason Blair back to us,” she said. “However, we have peace in knowing his killer has been found accountable by law for his crime. Jason was deeply loved by his family and friends and he is greatly missed by all. While we move forward with the void that the loss of Jason brings to our lives, we will always fill it with precious memories.”
Walton said this was one of the quicker verdicts he has experienced in this type of case and believed prosecutors put on a strong case with “a lot of good evidence.”
“I think the evidence showed you had somebody who had a gun, who wanted to use a gun, and it was used against a man who absolutely did not deserve it,” he said.
Thomas will be sentenced March 1. The murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Testimony began Jan. 9 in Scott County District Court.
Prosecutors say Thomas shot Roberts three times just before 2 a.m. June 9 outside MVP Sports Bar, 801 W. 4th St., and left the area in a maroon SUV driven by his cousin.
Roberts, according to prosecutors, was trying to be the peacemaker when a disagreement arose among friends. Thomas interjected himself into the situation and one of the men involved told him everything was "cool."
Thomas' cousin testified that Thomas admitted to shooting Roberts.
Defense attorney Jack Dusthimer argued prosecutors failed to prove Thomas guilty on both charges and questioned the credibility of several witnesses.
One juror, who declined to give her name due to safety concerns, said she ultimately found the witnesses credible.
“Not saying that they all told things all the truth, but I know they told truth to some part,” she said outside the courthouse.
The juror said she believed prosecutors presented their case “very, very well” and that jurors all came to the same conclusion after discussions.