OKLAHOMA – Jury deliberations went late into the night in the case of an Oklahoma City Pastor accused of murder his son-in-law.
Pastor Michael Elder was convicted of first degree manslaughter shortly before midnight.
Elder says he shot and killed Gary Davidson to protect his daughter during a domestic dispute last February.
Legal experts believe the jury’s decision might have been a compromise if they couldn’t all agree.
They didn’t think the shooting was premeditated, but they also weren’t convinced Elder was afraid for his daughter’s life.
A consultant for Pastor Michael Elder’s defense says convincing jurors Gary Davidson was going to kill his daughter April if he didn’t intervene was a struggle
On February 20th of last year, Elder fired three shots at Davidson, something consultant David McKenzie says could have been what sealed his fate.
“Perhaps one shot was fine,” says McKenzie. “But the last two were excessive.”
Elder claims the stories of alleged domestic abuse, Davidson’s alleged drug use and weapons in the form of tools at an arm’s length, all made him not want to take any chances.
“That was his position on why he continued to fire at him,” says McKenzie. “I guess the jury must have seen it another way.”
Prosecutors argued threatening text-messages and Facebook posts prove Elder acted out of anger and not fear when he shot Davidson.
They also argued that Davidson was conveniently scary to April. The two had sex after she claimed he abused her.
It took jurors hours to sort through all of dramatic disputes between this family.
That makes McKenzie think this case was a hard one for them too.
“The jury had to put themselves in the position of the reverend when he committed the homicidal act,” says McKenzie. “I don’t know what they hung their hat on convict him.”
The jury suggested a sentence of 15 years for Pastor Elder.
McKenzie says plans to appeal the jury’s decision are already in the works.