Two West Palm Beach residents are facing murder charges in the 2019 slaying of 24-year-old Jervonte Gibson. Antonio Nikia Bess, Jr. will face one count of felony murder while Christian Daniel Caballero-Hudspeth, 22, will face one count of murder with a firearm and another count of attempted murder after another victim managed to get away.
Both men will be held without bail. Fewer than half of murder cases involving a black male victim are solved.
Details from the scene are sketchy, but police believe that the two men facing murder charges opened fire on the victim and a friend. The victim died as a result of his injuries after being taken to the hospital.
The police relied on witness statements and video surveillance to track down the two suspects. This accounted for the lag between the murder and the charges filed.
The State of Florida will rely on this evidence to produce a story as to why the two men opened fire on the victim. This story will include their motive for opening fire. Physical evidence such as shell casings can link the bullets back to the gun (although our ability to do this has been vastly overstated by the FBI). Surveillance footage will also place the defendants at the scene when the shooting occurred.
While this may sound like a strong case, it feels more like the prosecutors are holding back key evidence. We have no idea why these two men would target Jervonte Gibson, so we can’t say for certain if the state’s story makes sense. But without that story, you have two men shooting at a group of men in a vehicle for no apparent reason.
Felony murder and murder with a firearm are both felonies of the highest degree and these defendants are facing capital charges. However, the prosecution would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants murdered and attempted to murder another victim for the purpose of personal gain or any of the possible conditions that could trigger a capital murder prosecution.
In Florida, there is no difference between felony murder and murder in the first degree. Further, the sentencing for an attempted first-degree murder charge is the same as a first-degree murder charge. So tallying up the charges, Caballero-Hudspeth is facing two capital felonies and his buddy is facing one.
Felony murder is any death that occurs during the commission of a felony. It is also charged the same as first-degree murder. In this case, because the other perpetrator was there and ostensibly fired shots, he will face first-degree murder charges.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing serious charges, then you need a skilled West Palm Beach criminal attorney to help you build your defense and protect your rights. Call The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to learn more about how we can help.