RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man accused of shooting at police officers who were patrolling the streets around a public housing complex in Richmond two years ago.
Anthony J. Slayton was found guilty at a bench trial of malicious wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of malicious wounding, maliciously shooting into an occupied vehicle, and shooting from a vehicle. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Slayton argued that the evidence presented at his trial was insufficient to support his convictions. The appeals court rejected his claims on Tuesday.
According to court records, three Richmond detectives were in plain clothes and riding in an unmarked SUV in August 2020 when they heard that police units had been dispatched to Mosby Court for a shooting incident.
As they drove to the scene, their vehicle was hit by at least seven gunshots from a passing car. One of the bullets shattered the windshield and grazed the shoulder of one officer, who was also hit by fragments of shattered glass.
The suspects’ car was stopped just moments later by another officer, who recovered two loaded handguns hidden underneath the floor mat of the front passenger seat where Slayton had been sitting. A forensics expert linked the guns to casings found at the crime scene and a bullet recovered from the police vehicle.
Prosecutors at trial also played a recording of a jail call Slayton made while awaiting trial in which he stated that one of his co-defendants had betrayed him by telling police he was the shooter.
Slayton argued on appeal that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that he was the shooter, and that the culprit could have been any one of the other occupants of the vehicle.
The appeals court said Slayton’s hypothesis that he switched places with another passenger just after the shooting, or that the driver shot across him out of the passenger’s side window, were not supported by the evidence or any reasonable inferences.
Codefendant Jerad Wyche-Alexander was convicted of the same charges that Slayton faced and sentenced to seven years in prison. The driver of the car from which the shots were fired, Nigg’i Le’quan Harris, was sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to malicious wounding, use of a firearm and maliciously shooting into an occupied vehicle.