Wrinkle in law convicts robber in partner's killing though Marine sgt pulled the trigger

A Fulton County jury on Friday convicted a Cordele man of fatally shooting his accomplice even though the defendant didn't pull the trigger.

The gunman was a young Marine, one of 10 people robbed by Jamal Hill and his accomplice, Calvin Lavant, at a College Park apartment. Recent case law allowing a defendant to be held responsible for any death that occurs during the commission of a felony helped prosecutors convict Hill, 23, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office said. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 35 years for his role in Lavant's death.

The duo had conspired to rob the group of 10 at the Lakemont Terrace apartments in May 2009, prosecutors said. After robbing the six men and four women, the gunmen directed two of the female captives into a separate bedroom where Lavant attempted to rape them.

He was stopped by Sgt. Sean Barner, who managed to escape his captors and retrieve a gun he had hidden inside the apartment, according to the district attorney. The Marine kicked in the bedroom door and fired two shots at Lavant, who fled the apartment before eventually collapsing at an adjacent building within the complex, where he was found dead. Hill escaped unscathed but left his cell phone behind at the crime scene, the district attorney said.

Prosecutors say Hill was arrested two days later after making incriminating statements to friends. Their case was strengthened by a DNA match linking him to the apartment.

Hill was convicted of felony murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, criminal attempt to commit rape, false imprisonment and multiple weapons charges.

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