DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After deliberating for almost 23 hours, jurors found Antonio Cochran guilty in the murder of Dallas teenager Zoe Hastings.
Cochran was accused of capital murder in the October 2015 abduction-murder of the 18-year-old. According to investigators, Hastings had stopped to return a Redbox movie on her way to church.
Prosecutors claimed Cochran abducted her and drove to a nearby creek bed where she was later murdered.
Prosecutors had pushed for a capital murder conviction which would mean an automatic life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
The jury found him guilty of murder. Because of the lesser charge of murder, Cochran can, at some point, be eligible for parole.
Jurors worked through Saturday to reach the unanimous verdict.
There was a concern that jurors would not be able to reach a verdict. At one point Saturday, the judge read the jury what’s called an Allen charge, which essentially reminds the jury of the stakes involved and asks them to keep trying to reach a verdict.
Based on the focus of the juror’s questions, it appeared that conviction of the lesser charge of murder was a compromise because all of the jurors were not convinced that prosecutors had proven Hastings was kidnapped, which would make her murder a capital offense.
The jury asked questions about one witness in particular who claimed to have seen a man approach Hastings’ van and make a stabbing motion with what could have been a knife and heard her scream for help. But defense attorneys countered that the witness could not have possibly seen nor heard what he claimed from where he was standing across the street.
The ordeal isn’t over for the Hastings family as they will have to now sit through testimony for Cochran’s sentencing. The sentencing phase will begin Monday morning.