CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The jury left the courtroom Wednesday afternoon to begin deliberations in the Rayquan Borum murder trial.
Rayquan Borum spoke a few words in court Tuesday morning but he didn’t speak from the witness stand. Borum stood up from his seat, next to his attorneys, and answered a few questions that Judge Gregory Hayes had – whether Borum wanted to testify on his own behalf.
Borum told Judge Hayes that he did not want to take the stand and tell the jury his story.
During the prosecution’s case, jurors saw several videos, including one that police say show Borum firing the shot that killed Justin Carr during the riot outside the Omni Hotel. There were videos that captured before and after the shooting.
The jury also heard from about 18 witnesses for the prosecution.
Tuesday morning when it could have been Borum’s turn to let the jury hear from him, Borum told the judge – with the jury out of the courtroom – that he understood that it was up to him to ultimately decide whether he wanted to testify on his own behalf or not. Borum said he decided he did not want to.
Minutes later Judge Hayes called the jury to the courtroom to start the day. It would be the defense’s turn to present evidence.
But, jurors didn’t have much a day.
Attorney Mark Simmons told jurors that the defense did not intend to present evidence or call witnesses. The defense rested.
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Wednesday morning.
When jurors begin their deliberations, they’ll have a couple of charges to consider.
Borum has been charged with first degree murder. If jurors decide he is guilty, they’ll have to choose which element fits the crime: malice, premeditation, deliberation. The jury will also have the choice of felony murder.
The defense argued against jurors hearing the theory of felony murder because they say Borum wasn’t committing another crime when the shooting happened.
But prosecutors say the riot itself was one continuous crime. They argued Borum chose to avoid a peaceful demonstration but joined a group yelling violent chants at police. They say he went to a bar where he was one of the people who broke in and looted. They say Borum then went outside the Omni Hotel, had a gun, and fired the shot that killed Carr.
The Judge agreed that jurors could consider felony murder as part of first degree murder.
If jurors don’t believe Borum is guilty of first degree murder, they can consider second degree murder.
Defense attorneys wanted the judge to also give jurors the options of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter because they say the crowd was provoked.
“The argument is there was adequate provocation. That at the point my client allegedly fired the weapon or whoever fired the weapon -they were adequately provoked,” said attorney Darlene Harris. “The crowd was calm until CMPD came barging through in riot gear. That, in and of itself, is the adequate provocation and then on top of that it was found they were firing things into the crowd."
Prosecutors argued back, saying police responded to the intersection of Trade and College Streets that night because of reports of things getting out of control.
Assistant District Attorney Glenn Cole said when police realized they were outnumbered, they tried to retreat inside the Omni Hotel but some in the crowd followed.
Video from a camera at the hotel showed police leaving the hotel lobby and trying to move the crowd back. “I guess we're forgetting the part where he (Borum) admitted he had a gun, admitted he shot it and then he's talking to all his friends about what he did that night," Cole said, adding there’s no evidence to support what Attorney Harris said.
“None of that is reality. None of that is what the evidence shows,” said Cole. “Your Honor, the proposition that somehow the defendant was provoked in all of this rings completely hollow.”
Judge Hayes declined to include the manslaughter charges. "I don't think the evidence supports an instruction on voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter" the judge said.
If jurors don’t believe prosecutors proved first or second degree murder, they could come back with not guilty.
Borum has also been charged with possession of a firearm by felon. On that verdict sheet, jurors will have to decide that or not guilty.