Man found guilty of capital murder in slaying over Air Jordans
Neil Bland sentenced to life in prison
HOUSTON – The jury has reached a decision in the case of a man accused of killing another man over a pair of new Air Jordan shoes. Neil Bland has been found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison.
He's one of three charged in the deadly shooting that happened in 2012.
Investigators said Joshua Woods was shot and killed after he bought a pair of new Air Jordans.
According to prosecutors, Woods and his friend Goodwin Matthew bought a pair of the highly-coveted shoes the day they were released on December 21, 2012. Woods had bought a pair for his sister.
When the two got back to Matthew's house a car with a group of men pulled up, including Bland, and they tried to rob Matthew of the shoes. Both Woods and Matthew took off in their car and that's when the group of men opened fire, prosecutors said.
Bland fired 14 shots from a .40 caliber handgun, one of the bullets hit Woods in the head, prosecutors said.
The prosecution called multiple law enforcement witnesses who responded to the scene and they independently described it as "chaotic." Woods' mother, Dazie Williams, also took the stand.
Williams has been very vocal about her son's death and started a non-profit organization called "Life over Fashion" which is aimed at protecting future victims of property crime.
At a news conference, she spoke about the pain of losing her son. She also wants Nike and Michael Jordan to change how the shoes are released, in order to ease the chaos.
“My son was hard working,” said Williams. “He was a father, a brother, and a friend to many. His death impacted not only me, but an entire community. We are praying for the family of the accused killer as well. This is hard for everyone, but as a mother I have to keep fighting. I have talked to Michael Jordan and he gave his condolences and said that we would talk again but we haven’t heard anything. We would like for Nike and Michael Jordan to re-evaluate how the limited edition sneakers are released.
Williams did not want to talk to us on camera but she did take the stand to give a victim impact statement saying she felt Bland did not show any remorse.
Bland sat in silence after the verdict was read and the judge asked him if he'd like to say anything to the family, but he declined.
"She said she was praying for Neal Bland and she said that she was praying for his family," said Deric Mohammad, an activist recounting what Williams said on the stand. "She was praying that at some point remorse would enter into his heart."
That's not how Bland's defense attorney Kurt Wentz saw it on the topic of remorse.
"I've known him for three years and I have never known him to disparage that family in anyway shape or form and for you to take that from this would be totally inappropriate," Wentz said.
The jury took just a couple of hours to convict Bland of capital murder for intentionally killing Woods over Air Jordan sneakers.
"I think that the jury understood the law of capital murder, they understood when you are committing an agrivated robbery with a gun and you intentionally fire at the victim 14 times that your intent was to kill," said prosecutor Angela Weltin.
Joshlyn Walls was not only Woods' sister but in her words, he was her best friend.
"I used to always say when he was alive, I am my brother's keeper so in his death i am my brother's keeper," Walls said.
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