WILKES-BARRE — Moments after being convicted of first-degree murder, Kenneth Malik Evans III maintained his innocence Thursday afternoon.
“God bless her soul, but I ain’t did nothing,” Evans told the mother of shooting victim Shantique “Teeka” Goodson.
Luzerne County prosecutors said Evans, 22, fatally shot Goodson, 27, on Nov. 11 as she sat in the passenger seat of a vehicle in a Sherman Hills apartment complex parking lot. Jurors rendered a guilty verdict in the case around 2:30 p.m. Thursday after less than two hours of deliberation.
Sheriff’s deputies shackled a visibly distraught Evans after the verdict. He was not immediately sentenced, however, according to Assistant District Attorney Jarret Ferentino, Evans faces life in prison at his Oct. 20 sentencing.
Emotions exploded as Judge David W. Lupas read the verdict, with crying and celebrating family members alike immediately escorted from the chambers. The sounds of an altercation could be heard outside the courtroom, but Sheriff Brian Szumski said afterward no arrests were made.
Media personnel were not allowed any contact with Evans as he was escorted from the building, although prior to the verdict he told a Times Leader reporter to “write what’s right, not what’s wrong.”
Outside the courthouse, Stacey Goodson said the trial’s ending has brought her closure.
“My daughter is gone in the flesh,” she said, “but she will always be in our hearts.”
Evans’ father, who was not present at the trial, telephoned The Times Leader from North Carolina afterward.
“He was found guilty when his name was in the paper with all them comments,” Kenneth Malik Evans Jr. said.
Evans said he believes his son did not receive a fair trial, and other witnesses to the event, including his daughter, could have testified to his son’s innocence if allowed to take the witness stand.
He suggested that Shantique Goodson was shot by her own gun in a struggle over the weapon with an unidentified male, and she and the driver ditched both the gun and drugs on the way to the hospital.
Farentino declined to comment on Evan Jr.’s comments, and defense lawyers could not be reached for comment.
In his closing argument, defense attorney John Pike highlighted the backgrounds and statements of Tiara McDuffie, Jasmin Frazier and Destiney Clark, all of whom testified that they witnessed Kenneth Malik Evans III — also known by the nickname “Stone” — shoot Goodson.
“If you unequivocally believe they told you the truth and nothing but the truth, then he is guilty,” Pike said.
He recalled Frazier’s initial statement to police, “I ain’t seen nothin’. I ain’t involved,” and questioned her motives in identifying Evans as the shooter later in the evening. He reminded jurors of McDuffie’s open criminal case involving felony drug charges in Luzerne County and questioned why Clark didn’t come forward until April, around the time Goodson’s mother filed a wrongful death suit against Sherman Hills Realty.
Pike also argued the forensic evidence does not support a case against his client.
“There’s a shocking lack of curiosity on behalf of law enforcement in this case,” he said.
During the prosecution’s closing arguments, Ferentino told jurors the witnesses waited to come forward because they were “scared to death” after watching Evans “execute” a woman they knew in broad daylight.
He reminded the jury of the phrase “snitches get stitches,” and said the witnesses feared outing themselves or provoking retribution from “Stone” if they were to speak to police.
“That nickname is hard,” Ferentino said, “that nickname is cold.”
He also said Pike’s argument about physical evidence relies on coincidence, and rebuked the defense’s position the bullet fragments and casings collected at the crime scene could have come from separate incidents.
The witnesses concocting a story to implicate Evans within minutes of the shooting that lines up with forensic evidence is absurd, he said.
“Is Stone the unluckiest guy in Northeastern Pennsylvania, or does the physical evidence support the eyewitness testimony?” Ferentino said
Goodson’s death came near the end of a difficult year for Sherman Hills, which included numerous drug arrests throughout the year, a stabbing and, in August, the shooting of two young girls. Her murder prompted U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright’s creation of a task force charged with exploring options to make the troubled housing complex a safer place for residents.
Members of the task force held a walk through of the property Saturday, and met with residents who said nothing has changed since the new owners took over.
Sherman Hills Realty sold the 18-acre, 344-unit apartment complex to Treetop Development of Teaneck, New Jersey, for $16 million in April.