Texas man guilty of shooting that killed Gateway football player in North Carolina
A Texas man will serve a life sentence for gunning down a Gateway High School football player during a chance encounter in North Carolina.
Jurors in Durham County, N.C., on Thursday convicted Gabriel James Gamez, 24, of first-degree murder in the death of Darrell Turner Jr., 18, of Monroeville.
Former Gateway football coach Terry Smith said he and Turner's family are pleased with the outcome.
“We are happy justice prevailed,” said Smith, who left Gateway this year. “But it is a small consolation because it will not bring him back. The legal system served its purpose, and this guy will not walk the streets again.”
Turner's family could not be reached for comment.
Smith said he spoke with Thomas Woodson, who was with Turner when the shooting occurred June 23, 2011. Woodson suffered a leg wound during the attack and testified at the trial.
“I let him (Woodson) know I am proud of him,” Smith said. “It had to be tough to relive that moment.”
Jaymar Parrish, a Gateway football player who was in North Carolina with the team, said he was happy with the verdict.
Gamez was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Turner and several other college prospects from Gateway and other area schools made a stop at Duke University in Durham to check out the campus on their way to a 7-on-7 tournament in Florida in June 2011.
Gamez of San Antonio was staying in a nearby hotel. He crossed paths with the football players in front of an AT&T store in a shopping center. The Texan was in town for his grandmother's funeral.
Turner was one of six people walking through the parking lot when words were exchanged with Gamez.
Gamez fired shots at the group. Accounts differed regarding the motive. A bullet that entered Turner's back and pierced his heart killed him, according to testimony at the trial.
Gamez testified that he acted in self-defense after seeing someone reach for a gun, but prosecutors contended that he started a scuffle with the players and yelled racial slurs at them.
The case opened with jury selection on April 22. Jurors began deliberations on Tuesday.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753. The Associated Press and Beth Velliquette of The (Durham) Herald-Sun contributed to this report.
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