RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Prosecutors dropped second-degree murder charges on Friday against a man who was originally accused of fatally shooting two people after a high school graduation in Virginia, acknowledging they do not have enough evidence against him in one of the killings.
Amari Pollard, 19, was originally charged in the June 6 killings of Shawn Jackson, 18, who had received his Huguenot High School diploma minutes earlier, and Jackson’s stepfather, Lorenzo Smith. On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Pollard on a single first-degree murder charge only in Jackson’s killing.
Richmond police initially said they believed Pollard targeted Jackson in the shooting because the two teens had a long-running dispute.
During a court hearing Friday, prosecutors told a judge that Pollard was initially charged by a magistrate using the information available on the day of the shooting, which also injured five people. Prosecutors said that after a longer investigation, they now do not believe there is probable cause to charge Pollard in Smith’s death.
Pollard’s attorney, Jason Anthony, told WTVR-TV outside court that he will argue that Pollard acted in self-defense when the case goes to trial.
“A big part of what is considered in a self-defense case is who brought the fight. Not who finished it,” he said.
Family members of both Jackson and Pollard packed the courtroom during the hearing in Richmond General District Court.
Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin declined to comment on whether authorities have a suspect in Smith’s killing, saying the investigation is still ongoing.