A jury found an Omaha, Nebraska, man guilty on Friday afternoon of killing a developmentally disabled man in a shooting that witnesses described as “target practice.”
The jury convicted Malik Stelly, 33, of first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of D’Angelo Branch, 28, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
Jurors deliberated for 24 hours before they reached their verdict, which also found Stelly guilty of two weapons charges.
Branch was walking towards his mother’s house when Stelly opened fire on him in a shooting that tipsters described as “target practice.”
A police officer said at a court hearing in March that the tipster mentioned the two men did not know each other.
Investigators found eleven shell casings at the scene and found Branch unresponsive with bullet wounds to the legs, abdomen, and head.
Prosecutors say Branch had the developmental capacity of a 13-year-old and was born with a developmental disorder called hydrocephalus.
“He was innocent, and he shouldn’t have had to go through that,” said Branch’s older sister, Carlisa Branch. “He had a big heart.”
During the seven-day trial, prosecutors presented the jury evidence such as Stelly’s cell phone that investigators found 10-20 feet away from the crime scene and a hat in the suspect’s apartment containing the victim’s blood.
Jurors took into account the prosecution’s presentation of the circumstantial evidence and thought it was strong enough to convict Stelly.
“It won’t bring our brother back, but we can finally have some closure,” Carlisa Branch said. “Justice had to be served.”
Stelly has a criminal rap sheet dating as far back as 2005 that includes convictions for weapons possession and assault.
A judge will sentence Stelly at a later date.