Crime

Jury convicts man in North Miami murder of teenager

Jonathan Simon, pictured here in court, was convicted Thursday of murdering 15-year-old Jason Maharaj in North Miami.
Jonathan Simon, pictured here in court, was convicted Thursday of murdering 15-year-old Jason Maharaj in North Miami. Miami Herald

A man is facing life in prison after a jury swiftly convicted him Thursday of gunning down a 15-year-old outside a North Miami Burger King.

Jurors deliberated just one hour in convicting Johnathan Simon of the September 2009 execution-style shooting of Jason Maharaj, a North Miami High student.

A large contingent of Jason’s family in court Thursday breathed a sigh of relief.

“For the family, it was a sense of justice for a really senseless killing of a 15-year-old young man,” said Miami-Dade prosecutor Jonathan Borst. “The family is still grieving six years later.”

Simon was convicted of first-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy will sentence Simon on Sept. 18.

At trials, jurors heard that Jason and a group of friends were hanging out on West Dixie Highway when they got into an argument with a man, who later followed them as they walked away.

The gunman suddenly opened fire, chasing the group through a Burger King parking lot. Jason tripped and fell, and the gunman stood over the teen, firing several more shots into him.

The killing was captured on grainy surveillance video.

The footage was not clear enough to see the killer’s face. But prosecutors say witnesses identified Simon, who was captured by police blocks away, wearing the same pants and backpack sported by the killer.

The gun, found wrapped in a white T-shirt worn by the killer, was found nearby, thrown in someone’s yard.

Defense attorney Scott Miller told jurors that no physical evidence tied Simon client to the scene.

Simon’s legal troubles are not over. He is still awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge for allegedly stabbing an inmate in jail.

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