By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer
Kneeling below the table he’d spent the last five days behind, Elbert “Lee” Meeks heard the words “not guilty” and began to sob.
It took a jury less than 30 minutes of deliberation Tuesday to acquit Meeks, 22, of the Dec. 21, 2011, shooting death of 2-year-old Ja’Cion Logan.
Meeks, who is also charged with a misdemeanor assault and battery, posted $5,000 bond and walked out of the Muskogee County/City Detention Center less than an hour after the verdict was read.
His mother, Donna Meeks, said her son had spent more than a year in jail with a “baby killer” target on his back. The five days that Meeks spent in trial will be his last under that moniker.
Meeks walked past cheering supporters Tuesday after he left District Judge Tom Alford’s courtroom. He briefly spoke to family members, including his mother.
“He said, ‘Momma, I’m never going to get those days back,’” Donna Meeks said. “The way people have looked at me, I’ll never get that back.”
Meeks’ sister, Jasmine Anderson, said she was just excited to see her brother happy.
“We knew he didn’t do it from day one,” she said. “The truth finally came out.”
Donna Meeks said her son’s story had been consistent from the day he turned himself in to police.
“If he’d done it, he would have told me,” she said. “I’ve never stopped believing him.”
During a taped interview Meeks had with police, his questioners offered him a chance to claim that he accidentally shot Ja’Cion during a scuffle with another man. Meeks said then that he wasn’t at the house. And when he took the stand Tuesday, he said the same thing.
Meeks’ attorney, Roger Hilfiger, laid the groundwork for Tuesday’s testimony on Monday, producing cell phone and computer records for jurors. He questioned defense witnesses about various messages and phone calls placed from Meeks’ cell phone the night of the shooting but stopped short of producing documents that gave Meeks a clear alibi.
That groundwork paid dividends Tuesday. Hilfiger showed the jury documents that he said proved Meeks was innocent.
The records showed Meeks to be calling and texting JeLica Cooper before and after Ja’Cion was shot at 7:19 p.m. A report pulled from the laptop Meeks was using at the time of the shooting showed that he was looking at a number of social media websites when Ja’Cion was killed.
Meeks, who was celebrating his 21st birthday that night, said he was talking to different girls, trying to get one to meet him.
He testified that he didn’t believe initial reports that he was wanted in Ja’Cion’s death. But when he went outside to get some birthday beers from a friend and saw a number of police cars driving toward Indianapolis Street, where Ja’Cion was shot, he began to believe it.
Meeks eventually surrendered to police in Tulsa. He said he went there to surrender because he was alone in Muskogee and wanted the support of his father, who worked in Tulsa, as well as other family members.
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.