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Jury acquits man in killing - Victim's family irate; defendant still faces unrelated drug charge

Author(s): ADRIAN ANGELETTE Date: May 25, 2007 Section: Metro

A verdict of innocent in a murder trial on Thursday sparked a wild scene outside the courthouse that included the brother of the victim vowing revenge. Jurors deliberated ("or about two hours Thursday before voting 1 1-1 to acquit Carnell "Sugar Bear" Webb of second-degree murder. Webb was on trial in the Feb. 2, 2006, shooting death of Godfrey Chambers, 18, and faced life in prison if convicted.

Chambers was shot six times in the back with an AK-47 rifle while he slept at the home of his girlfriend's mother on Thomas H. Delpit Drive.

The innocent verdict did not give Webb his freedom. Webb, who turned 29 Thursday, is scheduled to be in state District Judge Todd Hernandez's court today for a hearing on an unrelated count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Chambers' mother and brother fumed outside the courthouse Thursday and warned that Webb's acquittal doesn't mean this ordeal is over.

"As long as I'm here, he's going to have to worry about me," Chambers' brother, Johnny Elie, said. "I'm not going to wait for him to go to sleep."

Elie and Chambers' mother, Carla Chambers Hall, both described Webb as a coward, and remain convinced he was the man who shot Godfrey Chambers.

"That man is a danger to society," Hall said. "This is a bunch of bull."

Mall also issued a warning, saying Webb had "better watch himself when he goes to sleep." She also said, "What goes around comes around."

Before Hall and Elie spoke, Webb's friends and family danced around and mugged in front of television cameras outside the courthouse,

Webb's mother and his fiancee struck a more conciliatory lone.

"I'm sorry for that's family's loss," said Alicia Webb, the defendant's mother. "I feel relief my son is coming home. It's been a long struggle."

Cassandra Mumphery, Webb's fiancee, also said she feels sorry for the Chambers family's loss. But she thinks the jury reached the correct verdict.

"I feel that justice was served today," Mumphery said.

Webb's attorney Thomas D'Amico said after court that jurors agreed with his argument that the state's case relied almost exclusively on two eyewitnesses who were not believable without supporting evidence.

In his closing argument to jurors, D'Amico said there should have been many people who heard the loud rifle shots.

"These were shots that would have been heard in the entire neighborhood," he said.

Prosecutor Will Morris said he thinks he proved Webb was the shooter, but the jury wanted more evidence. He said the eyewitnesses did what they were supposed to do.

"They showed up. They testified. They did their job," Morris said.

The two eyewitnesses were Paula While and her daughter, Ebony. They both testified they were in the house when the shooting occurred.

In his closing argument, Morris told jurors the frantic 911 call Paula White made in which she identified Webb as the killer "proves this case." Morris also said the evidence proved Webb had a propensity for owning AK-47's.

Although no gun was found, ammunition was found at Webb's house, Morris told jurors. And one bullet was the same brand and caliber as the nine casings found in the bedroom where Chambers died.

Copyright (c) 2007 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.

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