What kind of jury considers the killing of a young woman at the hands of an ex-boyfriend who fired eight rounds into her from an AK47 an act of manslaughter and not murder?
The answer is a modern-day Miami-Dade jury, 12 of our fellow citizens, either dulled to such levels of violence or oblivious to the reality that killings have become a routine way for thugs to settle the score in affairs of love and money.
Or is it that, when it comes to a man killing a woman with whom he had a relationship — a teenager the killer says he met through a telephone party line — society still blames the victim?
Lindsey Graham died at 17 when her ex-boyfriend, Larry Williams, 22, walked around the back of her grandmother’s house in Perrine, rifle in hand, targeted her bedroom window and sprayed it with bullets.
He struck her eight times — once in the neck, several times in the chest, back, arms and buttocks — and fled. A terrified friend of Williams sitting in his car saw him take out the weapon, heard the shots, saw him put the weapon back and heard his confession on the way home.
There was no doubt about who killed Lindsey and how, but Lindsey got short-changed on the justice delivered by the men and women empaneled in April to punish the man who killed her.
They chose to convict Williams not of the first-degree murder charge he faced but of the lesser manslaughter with a deadly weapon.
Not that the jury lacked the facts: They also found Williams guilty of shooting a deadly missile into a building — which makes their manslaughter conviction even more ridiculous.
Williams readily confessed to police after phone records and Lindsey’s relatives led homicide detectives across town to a Miami Gardens address and the man Lindsey referred to in her diary as “stalker boy.”
As soon as he was told he was under arrest for Lindsey’s murder, Williams asked: “How many years do you think I will get?”
He kept asking this all the way to the Homicide Bureau, where he overheard detectives discussing the search of his mother’s home and told officers they could find the murder weapon in the attic. He also told them the sordid details of his on-and-off relationship and his obsessive thoughts and behavior.
But the jury bought the defense argument that Williams didn’t mean to kill her, that he was just trying to scare her.
The court record points to the character assassination of the victim as a loose girl who toyed with Williams’ feelings — an old excuse for murder and a defense ploy as old as the justice system.
This was not motivated by love as much as by scorn and revenge (just happened to have that illegal assault rifle handy in the trunk) — certainly not behavior absent of malice.
On Tuesday, almost eight long years after her murder, Circuit Judge Leon Firtel delivered the harshest sentence he could: 30 years in prison for the manslaughter and 15 years for the weapon conviction, to be served consecutively.
At last Lindsey Graham, whose life did matter and should have mattered more to her jury, got some real justice.