Jury finds Mobile man not guilty of capital murder in Birdville drive-by shooting
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A jury on Monday delivered an across-the-board win to a man accused of a fatal drive-by shooting, finding him not guilty of capital murder and several related charges.
Myles Amari Caples, 22, was the second man to go on trial for the death of Justin Mooney in 2018 on Raven Drive in Mobile’s Birdville community.
“It is rare that you get a not guilty in a in a capital case,” defense attorney Tom Walsh said following the verdict.
A jury last year convicted co-defendant Patrick Williams Johnson of capital murder in the case. Prosecutors allege that he had a beef with Tariano Hill and that he and Caples drove down Raven Drive while firing into a white Chevrolet Caprice. Hill and another man in the car, Lamar Clifton, suffered gunshot wounds.
Mooney, a 29-year-old city worker who was stranding in his mother’s driveway across the street, took a fatal gunshot to the head.
Prosecutors played video surveillance from a nearby convenience store showing the two defendants with guns walking around outside minutes before the shooting and then getting into a black car and drive down Raven Drive. But the defense pointed to a witness who told police he thought there might have been three or four people in the car. The defense maintained that a third person never identified by police was the other shooter.
Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood said he respects the jury’s verdict but added that he believes police arrested the correct person.
“At this point, that’s the end of the case,” he said. “You know, we didn’t believe there was evidence of a third person. One person has been convicted. One person has been acquitted. Should any further evidence come out, then you know, we would pursue every lead that we could possibly pursue.”
Judge Charles Graddick allowed the jury to consider less-serious alternatives to capital murder. Those included intentional murder, if the jury did not believe the killing took place from a vehicle, and reckless manslaughter. The jury found Caples not guilty of those offenses, as well, and also acquitted him of two counts of attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Walsh described his client’s reaction.
“He was quite pleased; knees buckled, and he was overcome with emotion,” he said.
Caples, who was just shy of his 18th birthday when the shooting occurred, has spent the last four-plus years in jail awaiting trial on the murder charge. Walsh said his client still has an unrelated charge stemming from a domestic dispute but added he believes his client should be able to bond out of Mobile County Metro Jail soon.
Walsh said Caples is smart but has had a hard life. Caples dropped out of school in the ninth grade and had a less-than-stable upbringing. He said he hopes that Caples gets a GED and turns his life around. As to why Caples did not tell police who was in the car with him, Walsh repeated what he had told the jury – that his client feared retaliation for snitching.
“He’s terrified of what just happened,” he said. “And he was not gonna say a word about it. Otherwise, he may end up dead.”
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