An Oklahoma man was convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting in the throat a bicyclist he didn't know in order to impress members of a street gang, federal prosecutors said.
On April 17, police responded to a shooting at a Tulsa apartment complex and discovered in the parking lot Maurice Burgess lying next to his bike and suffering gunshot wounds.
Witnesses reported seeing a red Nissan Altima leave the scene, and police obtained surveillance video from the apartment building that “showed the car trailing the victim, the victim falling from his bicycle, and a figure positioned in the car’s window,” prosecutors said.
Video also showed the car had “distinct damage” on the front passenger-side bumper.
Five days after Burgess’ murder, a Tulsa police officer was investigating reports of shots fired. During the investigation, the officer pulled over a red Nissan Altima after it failed to stop at a stop sign. “As the officer approached the vehicle, he observed a rifle in the passenger seat of the vehicle and ... Jacob Banks in the driver’s seat,” prosecutors said.
The officer arrested Banks, 21, for possessing a deadly weapon and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Detectives later noted the Nissan Altima Banks was driving had damage consistent with the Altima at the April 12 shooting, according to prosecutors. Officers later apprehended 28-year-old Devon Blevins, who was accused of firing the shots that killed the bicyclist, Burgess.
In a police interview, Blevins admitted he shot at Burgess twice, prosecutors said, and “told detectives that he recently joined the Savage Boys and that during the shooting he ‘didn’t want these guys thinking my loyalty wasn’t with them,’” and “wanted the shooting to ‘look good’ so that Banks would give him the ‘okay’ to be ‘admissioned [sic] in’ to the gang.”
In court, Banks testified that on the day of the murder, he and Blevins spotted the victim on a bicycle ahead of them as they drove. “Banks stated that Blevins propped himself up, sitting on the ledge of an open front passenger window, and fired multiple times across the hood of the vehicle, hitting the man. Banks quickly drove away from the scene,” prosecutors said.
Blevins "callously murdered Maurice Burgess,” Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said. “A federal jury held Mr. Blevins accountable for this senseless crime by convicting him of first-degree murder.”
On Sept. 17, the driver of the car, Banks, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.
Prosecutors said both defendants are members of the Savage Boys street gang and did not know the victim.