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Teen found guilty of murder in high school football star's death

A Pahokee man is guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 shooting of a Pahokee high-school football star .

After a late night of deliberations, jurors ruled around 10 p.m. Friday night that Carl Booth, now 19, was guilty in the murder of Norman "Pooh" Griffith Jr. outside a youth dance in Belle Glade.

Booth was one of two then-teens arrested on murder charges in Griffith's death. The other, Willie Felton, was never charged because prosecutors believed they did not have enough evidence to convict him.

Booth is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Nov. 12. His lawyer, Kelly Landers, said the departments of Juvenile Justice and Corrections would offer guidance on an appropriate sentence.

"We hope that Carl will get an opportunity to live his life at some point," Landers said.

Booth put his head down and teared up while the jurors were being polled for their verdict and while court officers were taking him into custody.

Booth's family declined comment after the verdict was announced. Griffith's family was not immediately available for comment.

Because Booth, then 17, confessed to participating in the shooting, the central question facing jurors was whether to believe his own words.

Landers argued Friday that Booth might have confessed in order to protect one of his accomplices. He also suggested Booth might have been tricked into confessing by the detectives who interviewed him.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Barry Cohen had ruled earlier in the week, however, that police solicited his confession correctly and that it should be allowed as evidence in the trial.

But Booth's own words were ultimately damning, and prosecutors used them against him repeatedly in their closing arguments.

"I can't help shaking the feeling that I feel like I killed him," Assistant State Attorney Jacqueline Charbonneau quoted him as saying during one of his two recorded confessions.

Landers said after the verdict was announced that it was difficult to get around the confession "that detectives procured from him.

"It clearly wasn't any of the witnesses," Landers said. "None of the witnesses could even definitively say that Carl Booth was even there."

Investigators said Booth fired a .40-caliber handgun at least five times that night but never hit Griffith. A second shooter's bullet was the one that struck and killed him, they said.

But prosecutors used Booth's confession and testimony from two witnesses who said they saw him there to link him to what Booth himself had described as an attempt to rob a medallion from Griffith or one of his friends.

Holding the two guns used in the shooting over her head, Assistant State Attorney Sarah Willis told jurors that it did not matter whether Booth's bullet was the fatal blow that pierced Griffith's head.

"Whether Carl Booth shot either one of these guns, he's guilty of first-degree murder," she said. "Either gun in Carl Booth's hand renders him guilty of first-degree murder."

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