Sierra Vista, Arizona

From Phoenix’ of September 29, 2007

Man Who Shot Teen after Prank Acquitted

A Willcox man who shot and wounded a teenage girl after she and her friends banged on his windows in a late-night prank was acquitted of three felonies, but a jury couldn’t reach a verdict on a fourth charge.

The Cochise County jury found Delbert “Cody” Evans not guilty of aggravated assault using a deadly weapon and endangering Kayla Shores, who was 14 when a bullet fired by Evans hit her in the back in February 2006. She has since recovered. Evans was also cleared of endangering another girl who was with a group of five teens on Evans’ porch.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a charge of aggravated assault causing disfigurement. The verdicts came Friday after a three-day trial and eight hours of deliberations.

The teens had gone to Evans’ rural home to get back at him for making a scary prank phone call, testimony showed. He had known Shores for years and they were friends.

Evans, 32, testified he had been threatened by a man over payment for a wood stove and thought he was shooting in self-defense at an assailant.

Prosecutor Vince Festa told jurors that Evans’ actions were unjustified, saying Evans shot at “fleeing shadowy figures” that were not posing a threat.

Defense attorney Chuck Weninger said Evans would not have fired if he knew Shores was there, noting their long friendship.

A 13-person grand jury unanimously refused to indict Evans in 2006, infuriating some in the community, who accused Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer of bungling the case. A subsequent recall effort failed.

Rheinheimer eventually asked for a preliminary hearing, and a judge ordered Evans to stand trial on the four felony counts.

A hearing to decide if Evans will be retried on the remaining charge was set for Oct. 15.

From the Arizona Range News of October 17, 2007

Court dismisses final charge against Evans

A Cochise County Superior Court judge dismissed an aggravated assault count Monday against a man who shot a teenage Willcox girl in the back last year.

During a jury trial in late September, Delbert “Cody” Evans, 32, was found not guilty of one count of aggravated assault against Kayla Shores using a deadly weapon and not guilty of endangering the lives of Shores and her friend Shelby Fernandez.

The jury did not arrive at a verdict on a felony charge of aggravated assault against Shores by means of force that caused temporary but substantial disfigurement or loss or impairment of a body organ or part. On Feb. 18, 2006, Evans shot then-14-year-old Shores with a handgun after she and four other children had banged on the windows of his rural Willcox home at night in return for his making a scary prank phone call.

During a hearing Monday, Judge Stephen Desens dismissed the aggravated assault disfigurement count at the request of deputy county attorney Vince Festa.

Festa said the County Attorney’s Office decided not to continue to prosecute Evans on the aggravated assault disfigurement count because of the small likelihood of getting a conviction on it.

He pointed out that according to a jury note, the eight-person panel had voted 7 to 1 on Sept. 28 for the acquittal of Evans on that count. Also, he said, during the summer of 2006, a grand jury had voted 13-0 against indicting Evans.

Based on those decisions, he said, it appears the people of Cochise County don’t believe a crime was committed.

Sonny Shores, Kayla’s father, said the outcome of the case is an “injustice.”

“It’s pretty sad that a guy can shoot a girl like that and face no consequences for it,” he said.

He added that he wanted to thank all of the people who have helped support his family.

During the trial, Festa argued that Evans’ actions violated the law. He said a person is allowed to act in self defense while there is apparent danger, but Evans shot at “fleeing shadowy figures” that were not posing a threat.

Defense attorney Chuck Weninger said Evans and Shores had been friends, and he would not have fired at her if he knew she was there. He explained that Evans thought he was shooting at Mark Rupert. He said Evans had been threatened by Rupert because Evans did not pay for a wood stove.

Neither Weninger nor Evans attended Monday’s hearing. Also, both were unable to be reached for comment afterward.

Shores was seriously injured as a result of the shooting. She underwent surgery and was hospitalized for nine days.

She has scars from the wounds, and two bullet fragments remain lodged in her body.


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