MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The jury began deliberating Friday afternoon, and returned around 7 PM Friday with a guilty verdict in the trial of a man charged with murdering a couple at a gas station.
Eric Ellington was found guilty of several felonies; two counts of first-degree murder, one count of carjacking, one of trespass as lesser included offense, and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Ellington was just 16-years-old when police said he shot and killed Kennia Duran, 24, and Julian Soler, 23, while they were pumping gas into Soler’s 1997 Ford Mustang Cobra.
Families of the couple killed were in court Friday when the verdict was read.
“We’re happy with the decision that he’s guilty, but I think this is a lose lose situation for everybody involved,” said Soler’s mother Janine Diaz. “It’s a young life that’s going to be incarcerated for a long, long, long time and our children’s lives are never going to be replaced they’re gone forever.”
The couple was shot at a Mobile gas station off 57th Avenue and the Palmetto Expressway on July 25th, 2011.
Police said they were ambushed, forced out of the car and shot.
Ellington and two other men, Dylan McFarlane and Wayne Williams were all arrested.
All of the men faced two counts of first-degree murder, robbery, armed carjacking, burglary with assault or battery, and armed robbery.
The shooting was captured on surveillance video from the store.
Duran’s mother, Jackie Serra said hearing the video in court was heartbreaking. “I’ve never seen the tape with sound. We never heard the shots before. I never heard her crying and screaming. It was very, very, very tough.”
Ellington’s mother also had a difficult time during the trial. At one point, she left the courtroom in tears. Ellington’s lawyer, Herbert Smith, seemed to cling to a small victory for his client. Despite being convicted of two counts of first degree murder among other charges, Ellington was found not guilty of carjacking another couple hours before the murders.
“I don’t think we lost the case. They found the defendant not guilty of the carjacking,” said Smith, adding, “They believe he killed these people. The case was put together. We think that was wrong. The judge denied a motion to suppress. We think that was wrong so we go from there.”
While lawyers focus on appeals and sentencing, the victims’ families are working to move forward. Julian Soler’s father even embraced Eric Ellington’s mother after her son was convicted of killing his.
“I just wanted to tell her there was no malice towards her son or towards her,” said Armando Soler. “I don’t feel nothing bad in my heart for them. we all make mistakes he made a big mistake so he’s accountable for it.”
Ellington was offered a plea deal before his trial started, but rejected that deal.