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Jabari McKee briefly shook his head Thursday morning in Portage County Common Pleas Court as Judge Laurie Pittman found him guilty of aggravated murder in connection with the shooting death of a Rootstown man.
After five days of testimony and a day and a half reviewing the evidence, Pittman found "beyond a reasonable doubt" that McKee, 28, of Akron, robbed and shot Bryan P. Burns, 41, inside his house at 4790 Smith Ave. early in the morning of April 20, 2016. He then set fire to Burns' bedroom and fled.
Pittman also ruled that McKee stole Burns' bank cards and laptop computer, and fled in the victim's silver 2001 Ford Mustang. Those acts added charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, grand theft auto, two counts of felony theft and one count of misdemeanor theft to what McKee faced in court.
Pittman said sentencing would take place after an expedited pre-sentence investigation. McKee faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Following the verdict, McKee's supporters in the courtroom called out to him, saying "Baby, don't worry about it," and "Jabari, keep your head up" as he was led out in handcuffs, on his way back to the Portage County jail.
"We love you Jabari," they called after him as sheriff's deputies led him away to a holding cell.
"Thank you for coming, I love all of you" McKee called back to them.
McKee's lead attorney, Erik Jones, said Thursday he would not comment on the case until after sentencing.
Portage County sheriff's detectives found Burns' bank cards in McKee's possession when he was pulled over driving the victim's car on West Main Street in Kent two days after the murder. The computer was found under McKee's mattress in his basement bedroom on Hammel Street in Akron the following day.
McKee told detectives during an interview following his arrest that he and Burns often smoked methamphetamine together. Jones claimed in his closing argument that detectives relied on "quantity," not "quality" of evidence to try and convict his client.
McKee did not testify in his own defense, and Jones and his co-counsel, Michael Noble, called only a single witness for the defense.