Defense victory: Jury only finds Joshua Nance guilty of manslaughter

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Dothan (WTVY)-- After deliberating about two hours Thursday, a Houston County jury found 40-year old Joshua Nance guilty of manslaughter in a 2016 deadly shooting. He had been charged with capital murder.

Joshua Nance, charged with capital murder, is led by to a Houston County courtroom on February 4, 2019.

“Thankfully, we had a great jury who listened to the evidence and came back with what we believe is the correct verdict,” defense attorney Shaun McGhee reacted.

Nance faced the death penalty had he been convicted capital murder,a charge McGhee and co-counsel Derek Yarbrough believe should have never been brought. “We maintained all along this was a manslaughter case,” McGhee said.

Nance admits killing 23-year old Paxton Kennedy, a man he claims to have never met before t the shooting.

Nance's girlfriend, Dama Clark, reportedly arranged the rendezvous with Kennedy, her former lover, who anticipated having sex with Clark and providing her with methamphetamine, testimony revealed.

Unknown to Kennedy, she brought Nance along to intimidate him in an effort to collect a drug debt owed to Clark's friend, Pamela Whitaker.

Nance borrowed a pistol and, when he approached Kennedy who was also armed, pulled it. However, he testified he had no intention of shooting Kennedy but, instead, planned only to “punch him in the nose.”

He claims the pistol fired when Kennedy,seated in his pickup,“popped the (truck's) clutch and it lunged forward. The vehicle brushed Nance's hand, causing the gun to fire.

Nance told jurors he and Clark panicked so they sped away, not realizing Kennedy had been shot until reading news reports the following day.

“I don't think there was any evidence there was any plan to kill Mr. Kennedy,” McGhee said after the jury found Nance guilty of the far less serious charge.

After Houston County Circuit Judge Butch Binford read the verdict, Kennedy's family appeared distraught. They canceled a media interview that had been arranged.

District Attorney Pat Jones also was disappointed. “It's not the verdict I had hoped for but that's the way (the jury) perceived the evidence to be,” he said.

Clark still faces capital murder charges as do Whitaker and her boyfriend Eric West.

Nance testified West contacted him to confront Kennedy and Whitaker, West's girlfriend, supplied the drugs that Kennedy refused to pay for.

Binford can sentence Nance up 20 years but must give him credit for the three years he was jailed awaiting trial.