The man accused of killing Daytona Beach police officer Jason Raynor has been found guilty of manslaughter.
Othal Wallace was initially facing first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
Prosecutors planned to seek the death penalty if he was convicted.
The lesser charge of manslaughter means he can no longer be sentenced to death.
Investigators said Wallace shot officer Raynor in the head in 2021. Raynor died fifty-five days later in the hospital.
After a full week of emotional testimony, Wallace took the witness stand in his own defense, and heated debate over rules related to the case, jurors found Othal Wallace guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Raynor’s family rushed out of the courtroom in tears minutes after a jury found his killer, Wallace, guilty of manslaughter.
“If you find the defendant guilty of manslaughter do you also find beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the offense the defendant carried or used a firearm? Yes,” said the judge while reading the verdict.
The jury’s deliberation spanned close to 15 hours over the course of two days.
Before deliberations even started defense attorneys made a few objections during the reading of the rules claiming they were too complicated for people to understand.
Jurors asked 5 questions during their deliberations – 3 about illegal detainment, one about the location of the shooting, and another about what is considered concealed carry.
Wallace’s defense team argued he was acting in self-defense when he shot officer Raynor in the head.
and that Raynor had no reason to approach him.
Prosecutors – on the other hand – said Wallace failed to follow Raynor’s commands and showed signs of wanting to harm police on social media posts.
“When you are in a high crime area, you don’t have the rights everybody else has,” said defense attorney Tim Pribisco. “His worst nightmare became his reality.”
“Because he told his followers when they come, I am not backing down and he didn’t and Officer Jason Raynor lost his life,” said State Attorney Andy Urbanek.
Wallace also took the witness stand and defended his actions and the audio recording he uploaded to Instagram 15 minutes after the shooting where he called police pigs.
“I thought I was gonna get stopped or shot so this was my last chance to get my message out,” Raynor told jurors.
Wallace’s team expressed relief at the verdict, which could give him up to 30 years behind bars, rather than life without parole or the death penalty.
“We are unbelievably grateful for the jury’s work and consideration and rejection of an offense that would result in the death penalty. We still have a sentencing hearing we need to prepare for. We are going to prepare and fight just as hard as we did in this entire case,” Pribisco said.
There will be a pre-sentence investigation and then sentencing should happen within 60 days in Volusia County.
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