Judge finds Roanoke man guilty of second-degree murder

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Christopher King has been found guilty of second-degree murder after a 2-day bench trial in Roanoke Circuit Court.

"There is nothing honorable about what the defendant did. He fled the scene. He tossed and got rid of the murder weapon," said assistant Commonwealth attorney Courtney Turner, in her closing statement.

Ten defense witnesses took the stand Wednesday, including King.

"He didn't ask for it, he didn't want it, he didn't desire it. He didn't know these people. He didn't have any hatred toward them," said King's attorney Richard West, about the incident leading to the stabbing that took place October 12, 2018.

24-year-old Travon Lee died from a single stab wound to his chest outside Tony's Deli on the 12th. A few hours before Lee was stabbed, an argument began between a group of men, but was shut down by Roanoke City Police.

The men went back to Tony's, though, and the argument intensified. Video surveillance from several angles around Tony's caught the entire incident on camera. On the stand, King said he pulled out his knife in self defense.

"I walked out, then I saw them come up behind me and that's when I reached into my pocket and pulled a knife out because I thought ,'they gonna try to jump me,"' said King.

While Lee was not involved in the altercation, King testified he thought Lee had a weapon because Lee kept his hands in his pockets.

"I'm just trying to make him retreat or if he had a weapon, at least make him drop it," said King.

King grew up in the Northwest area of Roanoke, an area according to several testimonies that has a lot of violence.

West asked each witness he brought to the stand Wednesday to describe NW Roanoke. He then talked about the violence in his closing argument.

"Killings and stabbings and violent crimes are a regular occurrence that people of that neighborhood have to protect themselves, " said West.

But Courtney Turner again reminds Judge Broadhurst about the video.

"Watch the video, watch the video, watch the video," said Turner.

King was not sentenced Wednesday. He has been scheduled for a per-sentence report December 12, 2019. A second-degree murder charge faces a prison sentence of anywhere between five and 40 years.

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