GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Neither side was completely happy with a jury's split decision in a high profile murder trial in Grand Rapids.
After more than six hours, one jury decided that Jeannette Davis was guilty of the second degree murder of Lance Byers and that her brother was not guilty of helping her after the fact.
The crime happened the morning of February 21 in the Heritage Hill neighborhood. Several witnesses testified that 43-year-old Byers was driving to work at the Department of Human Services and rear-ended the Lincoln Navigator the Davis' siblings were in. The accident caused minimal damage to both vehicles.
Jountay then got out of the Navigator, and started fighting with Byers. Jeannette says she shot at the two men to stop them from fighting, but hit and killed Byers. Jountay then drove Jeannette away from the scene.
As the jury read their verdict, the shock on Jeannette's face was evident. She could now face up to life in prison.
Jeannette and Jountay's mom, Rejeanna Davis, spoke to 24 Hour News 8 in front of the courthouse after that verdict.
"I just want people to know that [Jeannette's] not that ugly person that people have been seeing on the news and I'm her mother and I love her," said Rejeanna. "And I'm not just saying these things so you would think something different--I'm just telling you and my [younger] daughter here is telling you from our hearts [Jeannette's] not the ugly person that you try to make her out to be. Everybody makes mistakes.".
Rejeanna said she wasn't trying to say that her daughter should have been found not guilty--but perhaps found guilty of a lesser offense.
"We know that she did it. She knows that she did it. She didn't try to do it, but for her to get second degree like, she just straight out murdered--like she planned it or just said I don't care about you and just shot him she didn't," said Rejeanna.
Jountay Davis walked out of court hand in hand with his fiancee--a free man. He did not answer questions, but his attorney did.
"It was a tough decision for everybody and my client certainly respects and appreciates the verdict, but it's still his sister," said Frank Stanley. "Lives were destroyed here for every family it's just a tragedy."
Lance Byers' mom was in tears in the courtroom after the verdict was read.
"Lance's mom was having a very difficult time too. I think it's very difficult for her to accept the fact the verdict of Jountay being not guilty, but we are pleased that [Jeannette] was found guilty of second degree murder--verifying the intent and that she'll be sentenced for that," said Kelli Kopen, the mother of Byers' only child--a three-year-old daughter.
"His daughter is okay. She misses her daddy, but she's three so she's limited on what she can comprehend," said Kopen. "It will be a long haul I'm sure."
Kopen said the family was surprised by the verdict the jury reached for Jountay, but she said she respects the jury and appreciates their time. She also said they were happy with the verdict reached in Jeannette's case.
She also shared with 24 Hour News 8 the ways that the family keeps Byers' memory alive.
"I think the one thing about Lance is just to share the stories stories about him bring smiles to our faces all the time, so we try to talk about him all the time," said Kopen. "You know he was a huge blessing to all of us that knew him."
Jeannette will be sentenced for the murder of Lance Byers next month.
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