Travon Donnell Bennett, the 21-year-old man charged with killing a high school senior on his walk to school, was found guilty Monday of second-degree murder and armed robbery.
Bennett was accused of shooting Marckel Ross, 18, in September 2012. Ross was walking to Central High School in Capitol Heights when Bennett tried to rob him, police said. Ross, an honor student, was the second of six Prince George’s County high school students killed over a six-month period between late 2012 and early 2013.
After two hours of deliberation, the jury found Bennett was not guilty of first-degree murder but was guilty of the other counts against him, including possession of a handgun as a minor. He faces life in prison without parole for the murder and 25 years for the other charges.
Ross’s family attended the entire trial and was relieved with the verdict. His mother, Elizabeth, said she was worried about a bad outcome over the weekend but is happy with the result.
“I feel like: Marckel, you had your day — it’s finally over with,” Ross said.
Ross said she will be able to move on and not second-guess the death of her son, which she said has caused stress and insomnia.
She said she doesn’t think Bennett is remorseful, and she is hoping for a maximum sentence.
“He doesn’t need to ever come home,” Ross said. “I can forgive him in other senses, but he needs to stay locked up.”
Clayton Aarons, attorney for Bennett, said there was no evidence the murder was premeditated, adding that the jury looked at the facts of the case and made a just decision.
“We asked that [the jurors] were fair and just, that's what we got,” Aarons said.
Prosecutors said they will seek the maximum sentence for Bennett, who is awaiting trial on attempted murder and armed robbery counts in a separate case stemming form an incident in May 2012.
Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D) praised police for solving the case, which took four months of investigation, including checking alibis and constructing a timeline of the murder with little evidence initially.
Assistant State’s Attorney Wes Adams said that the jury arrived at the correct verdict based on the evidence and was pleased with its quick decision.
Bennett and his friends Kendall Bland, 23, and Jeremy Brown, 22, committed an armed robbery Oct. 31, 2012, using the .38-caliber revolver that killed Ross, prosecutors said. Before the October 2012 robbery, police had no leads to the identity of Ross’s killer but knew the model and type of bullets used.
As part of a deal in the October 2012 robbery case, Bland testified at the murder trial that Bennett told him that he killed Ross.
“He told me he tried to rob him, and the kid flinched at him . . . then he killed him,” Bland testified last week.
Bennett is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 10.
Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.