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UPDATE: "Guilty" decision in trial of death of MSU student

Posted at 2:39 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 20:52:50-05

LANSING, Mich. — The family of Isai Berrones has some closure after the jury has found Steven Washington guilty on all counts.

Steven Washington was accused of shooting and killing 22-year-old Isai Berrones.

On Tuesday, a jury found him guilty of second degree murder and he will be held without bond pending sentencing on January 29, 2020 at 8:30 a.m.

The jury's guilty verdict was followed by a short statement from Berrones father.

"Thanks a lot for everything and justice was made."

In closing arguments, Washington's defense attorney Toby White said the state's "star witness" Ivan Keener lied on the stand about Washington being the shooter, because according to White, Keener was actually the one who pulled the trigger.

"The tragedy is giving that punk immunity because he's the shooter," White said.

Washington's defense also said the jury needs to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Washington was the person who shot the gun, and that the only witness who said it was Washington was Keener.

White hoped that would be enough to raise reasonable doubt, but jurors didn't agree.

The verdict was disappointing to White, but he said his client shouldn't have taken the stand.

"They're not going to look at my client for his explanation unless he can corroborate it with something. We don't have an opportunity to corroborate. We don't have a picture of him at the 7/11 at the time when this took place. This was all dependent on the believe-ability of witnesses," White said.

In rebuttal, the prosecution said the defense had a shifting target they couldn't back up with evidence. There was also strong, compelling evidence, bullets found in his girlfriend's car, that linked Washington to the crime.

"That means the person who shot the gun that killed Isai was in Angela Kelly's car because the same bullets are there. They match. They've been cycled through the same weapon. They've been loaded into the same magazine," Prosecution said.

On Monday, prosecutors dropped the first-degree murder charge against Washington.

"All of that evidence corroborates Ivan Keener's identification that this defendant, Steven Washington, was present on scene and shot and killed Isai Berrones."

The state says Keener, who started the brawl, aggressively confronted Berrones outside of the 25 East apartment complex. Prosecutors say Berrones tried to run away.

"Isai Berrones turned on that grass, ran west being chased by Ivan Keener right into the waiting gun of Steven Washington, who pointed that gun at his chest, fired it and left him to die."

But prosecutors told the jury not to believe everything Keener said on the stand, especially that he saw Berrones had a knife in his hand and had lunged at Washington.

They said that the evidence does not corroborate self-defense.

"It's not a frame job. It's an explain job--to try and explain to his parents, police and otherwise why someone that he brought into that house to be in a physical confrontation, ended up murdering a 22-year-old boy. That is the only explanation that makes sense with the evidence in this case."

Back on Friday, Keener, who is charged with being an accessory after the fact in the death of Berrones, took the stand after an offer of immunity.

Prosecutors had to agree not to use what he said in court against him.

Keener told the court that he asked his two cousins, Jessica and Angela Kelly, to beat up two women who started a confrontation with him at a friend's house.

Those two women were Aieka and Miracle Chatman, who testified previously in this case.

Keener, the Kellys and Washington drove to the apartment where they got into a physical brawl with the Chatmans, according to Keener.

He said he saw Berrones exit a nearby terrace and he thought he was holding a knife.

Keener said he then saw Berrones just feet from Washington.

"They were squared off face to face and Steve looked like he had a gun out and it looked like Isai had a knife," Keener said. He said he heard a gunshot.

Keener said that he then left the scene with the Kellys and Washington.

Washington faces up to life in prison and will then have a chance at parole.

The jury also found him guilty on weapons charges.

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