MARKSVILLE, LA (WAFB) - The jury in the Derrick Stafford murder trial in Marksville has reached a verdict in the shooting death of a young boy and injuring of his father.
Jurors found Stafford, a deputy marshal for the city of Marksville, guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in the death of Jeremy Mardis, 6, and injuring of Christopher Few.
Stafford was taken into custody after the verdict was read. The sentencing date is set for Friday at 11 a.m.
Attorneys said Stafford faces 20 to 40 years in prison.
Both sides rested their cases Friday.
The big question that was on everyone's minds over past few days for the testimony phase was whether Stafford would take the stand and he did just that Friday morning. He was the first witness the defense called to testify.
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You could tell the shock from the audience as he took the stand because certainly the defense has kept it a secret so far.
Stafford's defense team chose to focus on the 33-year-old's upbringing, including his family's military background, his relationship with his wife and three kids, and his 400-plus hours of police training.
Stafford became emotional on the stand, saying he was trained to stop a threat and not to kill.
During cross-examination, the prosecution wanted to dive right into his actions on November 3, 2015, alluding to the fact that there wasn't a real threat to officers and that none of the officers tried to check on Few or Mardis after shots were fired.
Stafford did get emotional on the stand Friday after the prosecution showed him pictures of Jeremy Mardis' body. He says he has never seen the body camera video of that night and even broke down on the stand after seeing those pictures, saying he feels like "sh*t" and that no child should have to go through something like that.
Officials have said between both Stafford and another deputy marshal, Norris Greenhouse Jr., 18 rounds were fired and that no gun was found on Few or in his vehicle. They added when Few stepped out of his truck, he had his hands in the air. Greenhouse faces the same charges as Stafford.
Arrest reports for the two officers, detail the timeline of events on Nov. 3, 2015 around 9:15 p.m. in Marksville. It states Greenhouse started pursuing Few's 2000 Kia Sport. From there, two more Ward 2 city marshals joined in the pursuit. They were identified as Lt. Jason Brouillette and Stafford. Sgt. Kenneth Parnell, who was working for the Marksville Police Department at the time, heard the call over the radio and responded. It is also when he turned on his body camera that recorded the entire scene.
Their affidavits state when everyone reached the dead end of Martin Luther King Drive, Greenhouse and Stafford got out of their cars and "...discharged their duty weapons towards the 2000 Kia Sport vehicle. The vehicle, Mr. Few and his son were struck by multiple gunshots fired by the deputy city marshals."
"Mr. Few was critically wounded by two gunshot wounds. Mr. Few's six-year-old son received five gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene," it also stated.
The body camera captured 13 minutes from that night...just 26 seconds in, it shows "...Christopher Few's empty hands are raised and visible when gunfire becomes audible."
When Louisiana State Police started its investigation into the guns used, troopers found "...all spent casings recovered at the scene were fired from the duty weapons of deputy city marshals Norris Greenhouse and Derrick Stafford." Also, when Parnell was interviewed by investigators, "...he stated he didn't fire his weapon because he didn't fear for his life."
As for the other two officers that night, Brouillette and Parnell, both are back working for the Marksville Police Department. The attorney general's office said it does not anticipate any criminal charges against them and does not expect to file any more indictments in this case.