After hours of deliberations, Steven Lackey was found guilty of murder by a jury of his peers Thursday morning.
They found the defendant guilty of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and obstruction of an officer.
Lackey was found not guilty of tampering with evidence.
The conviction for possession of cocaine was a lesser included offense of the charge of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 9:30 a.m. Lackey faces the possibility of a life sentence plus 22 years in confinement.
Assistant District Attorney Melanie McCrorey said in a written statement the family of the murder victim, Larry Richardson Jr., was grateful for the verdict.
"Larry Richardson Sr. and his wife, Vivian, have shown great class and grace during such a difficult time," she said. "I know that this verdict does not bring Larry back, and that it was a hard case for the jurors to decide, but today, justice was served for Larry Richardson and his family."
The case was handed over to the jury Wednesday afternoon after the defense presented their case and closing arguments were heard. Lackey did not testify in the trial, but a recording of his interview with sheriff's investigators after the murder was played in court.
During closing arguments, McCrorey scuffed at the defense's claim that the shooting was accidental.
"This is about a senseless, brutal, intentional murder and nothing less," she said.
Lead defense attorney Assistant Public Defender Teri Smith countered the prosecution stating Lackey only ever meant to scare Richardson, whom he suspected of abusing his child. Smith contended Lackey's muscles reacted when he pressed the gun against Richardson's neck.
"His hand contracted and his finger pulled down on the trigger," Smith said. "There was no thought, 'I think I'll pull the trigger now.' It was an accident. This was not malicious."
The murder occurred at Lackey's house on Morningside Drive in February when the mother of his child, Christina Parker, and her boyfriend, Richardson, arrived to pick up his son Amir. The child had been taken to the house from preschool by Lackey's mother and sister after the boy reportedly cried that he did not want to go with Richardson.
Richardson stayed in the car smoking a cigarette while Parker entered the house to retrieve the child. Parker and Lackey argued about the suspected abuse of the child before Lackey reportedly exited the house carrying a gun.
"What was in his head was, 'I need to tell this man not to be beating on my child,'" Smith said in court Wednesday. "He was worried about his child."
Lackey said in the recorded interview he carried the gun because Richardson was a foot taller and 60 pounds heavier than he was.
"He was right about one thing: Larry Richardson was the bigger man," McCrorey said. "He was going to stay out of the drama."
But Lackey brought the drama to Richardson, pressing the gun against his neck and firing the 9mm.
The projectile pierced Richardson's neck on the right side and exited on the left side before becoming lodged in the driver's side door.
After Richardson had been shot, Parker drove the victim to the hospital while Lackey applied pressure to the bullet wounds and prayed in the car.
"My dad was a Marine," McCrorey said in closing arguments. "You know what he would call that? CYOA. The nice was to put that is cover your own butt."
Once at Newton Medical Center, Richardson was treated, but later died. Lackey left the hospital, but was picked up by Covington Police officers a short time later. Before he was arrested, Lackey made two calls from his cell phone, one to his mother and one to his sister.
Once police arrived at the scene of the crime, the weapon could not be located in the yard where Lackey said he dropped it.
"What probably happened was somebody walked by, saw the gun was dropped, looked around and picked it up," Smith said.
Newton County Sheriff's investigators did locate cocaine and marijuana at the house as well as several other items that led them to believe Lackey was dealing the illegal drugs. Lackey denied the drugs where his or that he was selling them.
"He cannot stop making up lies," McCrorey said. "He can't be truthful. He is not an innocent man."
After calling Lackey a "Liar! Lair! Lair!" McCrorey said his biggest and saddest lie was his accusation of child abuse by Richardson.
"They have the nerve to come in and call him a child abuser with nothing to support it," she said. "He is a liar and he is selfish. These are harsh words, but I won't apologize for them."
McCrorey closed her arguments by pleading for the good of the community.
"We cannot let this community be overrun by people who think it is OK to go around killing people," said McCrorey.