LAWRENCEVILLE — A Lawrenceville man who admitted to investigators he drunkenly fired a handgun toward an apartment building where a 13-year-old boy was fatally shot in his bedroom has avoided a murder conviction, officials said.
Jurors in the felony murder trial of Joshua Banks, 27, sided with the defense and returned a verdict Friday evening that found Banks guilty of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Banks was also convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Assistant District Attorney Karen Harris wrote Saturday in an email to the Daily Post.
After the verdict, a judge set Banks’ sentencing hearing for March 1 and adjourned.
The verdict should spell a substantially shorter prison sentence for Banks, versus a potential life sentence with a murder conviction. The maximum prison term for involuntary manslaughter is 10 years, according to Georgia code.
Attorneys who worked the case were not available for comment Monday.
The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office was closed in observance of Presidents’ Day, while a representative at defense attorney Xavier Dicks’s office said he was in a Fulton County courtroom.
Banks was indicted on charges of felony murder and possessing the handgun in the Jan. 18, 2010 death of Tre Shambry. The weeklong trial wrapped Friday afternoon, and deliberations began after a lunch break.
By all accounts, the killing was accidental. On a tape played repeatedly for jurors, Banks, a convicted felon, told police he was drunk on vodka and high on marijuana when he snatched the gun from a friend and fired several shots for kicks, before they all bolted from the Holland Park apartments.
Seven years earlier, Banks had been convicted of a felony — forgery and financial transaction card fraud — which would make even holding a gun another felony. He also said on tape that hearing the news that a boy had died cast him into a months-long depression.
In his closing arguments Friday, Dicks questioned whether evidence was sufficient to put the gun in his client’s hand. The confession, Dicks posited, came after heavy pressure from police. Regardless, Dicks said the shooting was textbook involuntary manslaughter.
Shambry had moved to the complex with his family just a week before his death.
Shot once in the abdomen, Shambry was found by his two younger sisters and mother seconds after bullets flew. Evidence at trial showed he was likely hanging off his bunk-bed, peeking out his bedroom window to see what the commotion was in the parking lot.