SCHENECTADY — A Schenectady County jury has begun deliberating the fate of a city man accused of killing 17-year-old city mother Medina Knowles.
The jury deliberated for a little over an hour Wednesday afternoon in the case against Raekwon Stover, 19.
The brief deliberations ended as the jury sent out a note concerning the definitions of murder and manslaughter. Deliberations are to resume Thursday morning.
The jury began its work after first hearing closing arguments from the prosecution and the defense.
Prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham used testimony and text messages to portray Stover as controlling of Knowles.
Prosecutors contend Stover pimped out Knowles online and grew upset as she made moves to stop. She missed client appointments and began to look for a job.
Stover then shot and killed her late Sept. 15 in her bedroom at the Schenectady Street apartment she shared with her family, prosecutors allege.
“It’s clear that her use to him was ending and he’s angry with her,” Tremante-Pelham told the jury.
Stover’s attorney Adam Parisi attempted to pull apart various parts of the case and focus the jury’s attention on words used.
Parisi also offered the jury multiple interpretations of statements Stover allegedly made separately to three other people, including not believing the statements at all.
He also questioned how Stover could have been involved in pimping when he argued prosecutors offered no indication of what he did to earn his keep.
Under that scenario, Parisi argued, killing Knowles made no sense.
“In terms of theory, how does he put more money in his pocket if she’s dead?” Parisi asked.
Knowles’ mother, Tyesha Murray, rushed to her daughter’s room after hearing the shot and testified earlier to seeing Stover standing over Knowles’ body.
Parisi argued that someone else was in the room that she did not see, someone who had either run out the back door or hid in the closet during her brief scan of the room. He seized on another witness’ account of an early Murray statement attributing the killing to “they,” not “he.”
Tremante-Pelham took on Parisi’s arguments point-by-point. She called each of Stover’s statements self-serving. In the first, to Murray in the bedroom, he blamed the shooting on Knowles. To others, he called it an accident while playing with the gun or cleaning it.
The evidence, she said, ruled out all three scenarios. That evidence includes what a neighbor heard — Knowles yelling “Mommy! Mom!” just before the shot. That wouldn’t happen in an unexpected shot scenario, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor noted Knowles’ mother is clear on the 911 tape what she saw. She also argued Murray couldn’t both be aware of someone hiding in a closet or fleeing unseen and know of their presence at the same time. Also, Tremante-Pelham noted, Knowles’ bedroom door wasn’t on its hinges, making it difficult to shut quickly. When Murray approached, the door was closed.
Tremante-Pelham told the jury not to let the defense arguments divert them from the credible evidence.
“He goes to her bedroom shortly before 11:30 p.m.,” Tremante-Pelham told the jury. “He brings a gun. He brings bullets. He points the gun at her head and Medina screams out for help, ‘Mommy! Mom!’ and then a gunshot.
“He fires a bullet into her head to silence her cries for help.”
If convicted on all counts, Stover would face in excess of 25 years to life in state prison. Judge Louise Sira is presiding.