An Alexandria jury convicted 16-year-old Anthony Talbert of second-degree murder yesterday in the fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old schoolmate.
The eighth-grader was convicted in Circuit Court of murdering Terrance (Martin) Penick, as he played dice with friends Aug. 19 on Belvoir Street in the Cameron Valley section of Alexandria.
The 12-member jury deliberated for five hours before reaching its decision, which could send Talbert to prison for a maximum of 20 years. Judge Donald M. Haddock deferred sentencing until Feb. 12.
The youth, who was 15 years old when the slaying occurred, was ordered in November to stand trial as an adult after prosecutors successfully argued that his crime was so serious it could not properly be considered in Juvenile Court. The stiffest sentence Juvenile Court could have handed down would have set Talbert free on his 21st birthday.
When the guilty verdict was announced, Talbert silently waved to his family and friends who had crowded the room during the two-day trial.
During final arguments, one of Talbert's friends punched a defense witness, Shawn Hickman, 19, in a skirmish outside the courtroom.
Sheriff Michael E. Norris dispatched four deputies to control the courtroom crowd and Hickman left, a tissue covering his bleeding nose.
Talbert had pleaded innocent by reason of self-defense and testified Thursday that he stabbed Penick with a "hunting knife" because Penick and Hickman had been "chasing" him for months. He told the court: "They were trying to do me harm."
Defense attorney Stefan C. Long told the jury that the defendant had "suffered for months" because of harassment from Hickman and Penick, and said the killing was "justified" because Talbert stabbed Penick only after the victim struck the defendant on the right cheek with a bottle.
In the most damaging testimony against Talbert, four witnesses testified that they saw Penick pull a bottle from inside his coat, but only after Talbert stabbed him. Police investigator Derrill Scott also testified that after Talbert turned himself into the police less than three hours after the incident, the defendant had no marks on his face.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney David Dunlap told the jury, "You have to admit, stabbing someone in the back in self-defense is unusual." Dunlap argued that the fact that five witnesses testified that they saw Talbert stab Penick, and then, after he collapsed, kick him in the head, indicated there was "malicious intent" involved.
Haddock yesterday ordered Talbert held pending sentencing at the Northern Virginia Detention Center, where he has been held since August.