A St. Charles Parish jury this week found a 23-year-old New Sarpy man guilty of fatally shooting a Destrehan High School senior a few days before his scheduled graduation last year.

Javon Wells was convicted Thursday of one count of second-degree murder in the death of Kendall Williams Jr., 18.

Wells faces mandatory life imprisonment at a sentencing hearing that 29th Judicial District Court Judge Emile St. Pierre set for July 11.

After a three-day trial, jurors deliberated for less than 2½ hours before returning their verdict at the Hahnville courthouse, St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson's office said. 

Two of the defendant's relatives testified for the state. One of those relatives was the target of a warrant that allows prosecutors to jail witnesses who are essential to a case but whose presence for court proceedings can't be guaranteed by a subpoena. 

Williams was less than a week away from graduating from Destrehan High when he was killed by a gunshot to the head under a gazebo at a park near East Harding and Eighth streets in New Sarpy the night of May 4, 2016.

Wells was arrested about a block away, having been identified as the killer by two of his cousins who were at the park with Williams, according to the Sheriff's Office.

During an interrogation, investigators asked Wells whether Williams had been killed because Williams was with a person who had shot Wells in another incident a short while beforehand. Wells said he didn't know how or why Williams was killed, but he was nonetheless jailed on a count of murder.

The cousins, Lou'Donovan Wells and Lamar Walker, were subpoenaed for the defendant's trial. Lou'Donovan Wells was placed under a so-called material witness bond in the days leading up to the trial. 

Another witness was Williams' mother, who testified about her slain son's love for cars and his excitement about walking across the graduation stage to receive his diploma, Chaisson's office said in a statement Thursday.

"Kendall Williams Jr. was a bright light in his family and in our community," Chaisson said in a statement. "Instead of attending his graduation ceremony, Kendall's family attended his funeral. ... I applaud those young men who stood in the face of adversity and testified about what they knew. They did the right thing."

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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