Double-murder defendant Nicholas Benton declines to testify in his own defense, much to the disappointment of several jurors. The attorneys offer closing arguments and then Benton’s case goes to the jury.
The fourth episode of the podcast “Breakdown: A Jury of His Peers,” narrated by AJC Editor Kevin Riley and legal affairs writer Bill Rankin, will go live early Monday. It’s a jury’s-eye view of the Benton murder trial, with Riley as a member of the jury.
Police say Benton got into the back seat of a car parked at a Burger King is northwest Atlanta to transact a drug deal. Almost immediately, a witness testified, he began firing with a handgun. Reginald Coicou, sitting directly in front of Benton, was shot six times and died in his seat. The state says Benton then shot and killed his own friend, Quincy “Fat” Wytche, who was also sitting in the back seat. Wytche was dead in minutes.
Now that the case is theirs, the jurors face some difficult choices. No single thing clearly makes Benton guilty or not guilty.
The state has no murder weapon, no getaway car, no fingerprints and no DNA. It does have video from two locations, one that shows a man who could be the killer, and one that only shows the car in which the shootings took place.
“We should have more evidence,” juror Sangita Patel tells Riley in an interview after the trial. “There was no gun and no car, and the car cannot disappear into thin air.”
She’s referring to the car that the killer drove away from the Burger King after the shootings. She later adds, “All we have is a bullet but no gun. The evidence was not given that it was handled by him. His fingerprints were nowhere to be found.”
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Read the judge’s instructions to the jury here: