Albert Myles

Albert Myles

A New Orleans jury convicted a man of manslaughter Wednesday for a shooting on an Upper 9th Ward street three years ago that left his 17-year-old friend dead.

Jurors deliberated about two hours before voting 11-1 to convict Albert Myles, 24, of manslaughter for the shooting of Kimonte Washington. He also was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

State prosecutors had sought a second-degree murder conviction, arguing that the shooting was intentional. A defense attorney for Myles said the shooting was an accident that came as his client, Washington and another teenager were being pursued by unknown attackers.

Myles faces from 20 to 80 years as a habitual offender at a March 28 sentencing, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Washington was killed about 9 a.m. Feb. 12, 2015, in the 1900 block of Port Street.

Police said they collected a pair of surveillance videos. The first showed Myles, Washington and their friend William London buying snacks and soft drinks.

The second video captured the moment when a bullet from Myles’s .40-caliber handgun struck and killed Washington, prosecutors said. He bled to death on the scene.

As a convicted felon, Myles should not have had a weapon.

Prosecutors said he left the scene and did not give a statement to police until a year later.

Myles’ attorney, Mark Vicknair, told jurors to concentrate on shell casings found a block away from the killing site. He said those shells came from another shooter taking aim at Washington or his client.

Vicknair also noted that Washington had been wounded the week before he died by an unknown assailant in a separate shooting.

Myles took the stand Tuesday to claim self-defense.

Assistant District Attorney Inga Petrovich insisted in her opening statement that the shooting was not a case of manslaughter.

Yet by the end of the trial, prosecutors seemed to have shifted their pitch to the jury. Assistant DA Mike Trummel told jurors that even if they did not believe Myles killed his friend intentionally, the shooting would still fit the definition of manslaughter.

State law allows a manslaughter conviction for a killing even when a shooter does not intend to kill someone, as long as they were committing a felony, Trummel said. He said Myles’ testimony that he shot blindly down Port Street would fit the definition of negligent discharge of a firearm.

Meanwhile, Vicknair argued that the killing was an accident and the shooting was done in self-defense.

“It was an incredibly reckless thing to do, running in the street, but he was being shot at and he was trying to defend himself and defend his friends,” Vicknair said.

Emotions on both sides boiled over in the middle of closing arguments Wednesday, when Washington’s mother and Myles’ relatives began exchanging words across the courtroom.

“I’ll be outside here, waiting for you,” Washington’s mother told one of Myles’ supporters as she left the courtroom.

London, 20, is still facing trial as an accessory to second-degree murder.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge. | (504) 636-7432