Tyree Washington reacts after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in February 2011.SHALIMAR — Tyree Washington was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery. Washington, 17, showed little emotion when the jury announced its verdict after deliberating for about 90 minutes. His family had no comment as they left the Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex in Shalimar. Washington was the first of four teenagers to be tried for the murder of Chris Pitcock.
Pitcock, 17, died March 4, 2010, after he was shot in the side with a .357 magnum revolver while sitting in his Chevrolet Blazer at the corner of Oakland Circle and Lula Belle Lane in Fort Walton Beach. Police said he was shot when the other teens tried to steal 2.5 ounces of marijuana from him.
“I’m very pleased that the jury weighed the evidence and came to this verdict,” prosecutor Angela Mason said as she left the courtroom. About 14 young people stayed late at the courthouse annex to hear the verdict, which was announced about 7 p.m. They later cried and embraced outside the courtroom, saying “justice has been done.” The four-day trial clearly took a toll on Pitcock’s family. David Pitcock, Chris Pitcock’s father, suffered an anxiety attack Thursday and was taken from the annex in an ambulance. His sister, Ann White, said later that he was admitted to a hospital.
Washington’s three co-defendants — Johnathan Lee Louviere, Timothy Preston Chavers and Kyle Markeith Walling — still face murder charges for their alleged roles in Pitcock’s death. “One down and three more to go,” said Sherry Cordy, who accompanied Chris Pitcock’s mother, Elaine, out of the courtroom following the verdict. Elaine Pitcock vowed that the family would make it through the three upcoming trials. Two are scheduled for early March and the third is set for April. “We have strength,” Elaine Pitcock said. “It’s all for Chris.”
Circuit Judge William Stone set Washington’s sentencing for 1:30 p.m. March 29. If Washington was an adult, the only possible sentences for a first-degree murder conviction would be death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. But because he is only 17, the death penalty has been ruled out. There also is some question whether someone his age can be given a sentence without a chance for parole. The state attorney’s office has indicated it intends to seek a sentence of life without parole. Mason used a PowerPoint presentation during her closing arguments Thursday. She argued for the conviction because Washington helped plan the robbery, although he did not kill Pitcock. Mason said Washington lured Pitcock to the scene and provided the gun Chavers used to shoot Pitcock. She said Washington also later buried the gun. “They didn’t say kill him, but they gave him a loaded gun,” she argued. “Timothy Chavers didn’t have a gun until Mr. Washington gave it to him.
Johnathan Lee Louviere, Timothy Preston Chavers and Kyle Markeith Walling the other three co-defendants in the crime await trial as of Feb. 2011.