Dallas man found 'guilty' of murdering teen in 2015, but not capital murder

After four days of intense deliberations, a Dallas jury found a man ‘guilty’ of murdering Zoe Hastings in 2015.

It took the jury roughly 22 hours to come to a unanimous verdict. Jurors at times seemed as though they might be deadlocked, asking several questions about eyewitness testimony. For four days, prosecutor presented cell phone and DNA evidence like hairs found on Hastings that could not eliminate Antonio Cochran as a suspect, but didn’t directly link him to the crime either.

The jury also heard from witnesses who reportedly saw Hastings abducted by a man outside the Walgreens where she disappeared while dropping off a Redbox movie, but the defense attacked the witnesses’ credibility.

The doubts cast by the defense seemed to have some influence on the jury, several times they asked questions and had transcripts of testimony read back to them regarding eye witnesses who reportedly saw Hastings being kidnapped. At one point, the jury seemed to be unable to reach a verdict, but the judge urged them to keep deliberating and within hours, they delivered the unanimous verdict. Cochran was found ‘guilty’ of murder but not capital murder, which included kidnapping and carries a larger penalty.

Former prosecutor Toby shook is not involved with this case, but tells FOX 4 this was a big win for the defense.

“These cases are very hard to defend and the defense at the very least is trying to get the jury to find the defendant guilty of a lesser because that avoids the life without parole. Now they have a very wide range of punishment from 5-99 years to life.”

The verdict also means Cochran can be eligible for parole. The death penalty is already off the table because ofr Cochran’s intellectual disability.
No one involved with the case wanted to comment on camera until after the sentencing phase is over. That sentencing phase begins Monday morning at 9. The same jury will decide Cochran’s fate.

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