Crime & Courts

Borum found guilty in fatal shooting during 2016 protests in uptown Charlotte

Borum convicted of second degree murder

Desmond McCallum, assistant district attorney, spoke to the media after the second degree murder conviction of Rayquan Borum for the killing of Justin Carr on Friday, March 8, 2019.
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Desmond McCallum, assistant district attorney, spoke to the media after the second degree murder conviction of Rayquan Borum for the killing of Justin Carr on Friday, March 8, 2019.

A Mecklenburg County jury convicted Rayquan Borum of second-degree murder Friday in connection with the shooting death of Justin Carr during Charlotte’s 2016 protests over a fatal police shooting.

Borum, 24, could spend up to 30 years in prison.

The second-degree murder sentence runs close to 30 years at its maximum, and he also was found guilty of possession of firearm by felon, which carries a sentence of 14 to 26 months. He will serve the sentences consecutively, Judge Gregory Hayes said.

Carr’s mother addressed the court Friday, saying she felt like the focus was on Borum this whole trial and she wanted “justice for Justin.

“It hurts me a lot but I really am proud of my son, because he was down there taking a stand for something he believed in,” Vivian Carr said, referring to her son’s choice to protest the night he was shot.

A chaotic scene

Family members say Carr, 26, went uptown on Sept. 21, 2016, to participate in a peaceful protest against the fatal Charlotte-Mecklenburg police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the day before.

But Carr never came home.

He was shot in the head outside the Omni Hotel as the protest scene grew chaotic. Police used tear gas and other devices as protesters allegedly threw potted plants and bottles, among other items.

Hours later, then-Gov. Pat McCrory ordered the National Guard to come to Charlotte.

Within 36 hours of the shooting, Borum was arrested. The gun and the bullet that killed Carr were never found, but police said they found a cartridge casing on the sidewalk near the Omni that matched live rounds found with Borum’s possessions.

Appeal planned

The jury had heard more than a week of testimony and deliberated for two and a half days.

They had the option of finding Borum guilty of first-degree murder, which could have meant he spent the rest of his life in prison.

Asked if he was disappointed the jury did not find Borum guilty of that charge, Desmond McCallum, a Mecklenburg County assistant district attorney, said, “We have faith in the jury system, and we thank them for their service.

“They were very deliberate, they looked at the evidence, evaluated the evidence and wanted to do a good job and make sure the voices of this community were heard,” McCallum said. “And ultimately they spoke and gave justice to the victim.”

Borum will file an appeal, attorney Mark Simmons told reporters outside the courthouse.

Defense attorney Darlene Harris said Borum “was definitely painted as a villain, and I’m sure that played into the decision that they made, but from the very beginning, it should have been about whether he committed the crime.”

Borum’s defense team chose not to present its own evidence during the trial. “It is our client’s right not to do that. It is his constitutional right not to do that, and it’s the state’s job to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Harris said.

The second-degree verdict means the result could have been worse, but it also could have been better for Borum, Simmons said. Borum’s mother and sister were in court when the verdict was read.

“His mom’s upset, ‘cause that’s her son,” Simmons said. “And she empathizes with Justin’s mom, ‘cause that was her son.”

Borum chose not to address the court before his sentencing.

He had no visible reaction to the verdict and was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

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Jane Wester is a Charlotte native and has been covering criminal justice and public safety for The Charlotte Observer since May 2017.