Trayvon Arcement

Trayvon Arcement, 22, is accused in the 2013 killing of Justin Mitchell, 22, in New Orleans East. (OPSO)

OPSO

Rejecting a single eyewitness’ claim that he could identify the killer, a jury on Friday acquitted a man accused of a fatal shooting in New Orleans East.

The Criminal District Court jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict for Trayvon Arcement, 22, who was accused in the Oct. 7, 2013, killing of Justin Mitchell, also 22.

Arcement would have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

Testimony presented during the three-day trial suggested that Mitchell was gunned down as he tried to conduct a marijuana deal in the 4700 block of Stemway Drive

Prosecutors said there was no forensic evidence and no witnesses came forward at first. But weeks later a 45-year-old city employee who lived next door, Charles Barnes, said he had watched as Mitchell was killed.

Four months after the killing, Barnes said he saw a news alert about a man wanted for an auto theft. The image of the suspect – Trayvon Arcement – was identical to the killer, he said.

Barnes testified at length on Thursday about his memory of the killing. He proclaimed that he was certain that Arcement was the man he watched pull a handgun out of a hoodie and kill Mitchell in front of him.

However, defense attorneys suggested that it was too dark for Barnes to have seen the shooting well.

In a dramatic courtroom moment, defense attorney John Fuller asked Barnes to look out the windows at 6:46 p.m. – the exact minute the shooting happened nearly to the day four years earlier.

There was still some light in the air, but the sun had already set.

Before closing statements Friday, jurors visited the crime scene in New Orleans East to decide for themselves how well Barnes could have seen the shooting. They deliberated for 1 hour and 39 minutes before returning a verdict.

Arcement still faces a separate count of auto theft.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432