01/11/18 — Murder plea ends in prison sentence, scuffle outside courthouse

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Murder plea ends in prison sentence, scuffle outside courthouse

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on January 11, 2018 12:20 PM


A homicide case came full circle Thursday when 19-year-old Jacques Torraines Atkinson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Wayne County Superior Court and was sentenced to up to 19 years in prison.

The facts of the case showed Atkinson was in an argument with the victim, 19-year-old Michael Jerome Wimbush Jr., accusing Wimbush of "talking (expletive) on Facebook" about Atkinson's cousin before he fatally shot him June 26, 2016.

People in the courtroom in support of the victim and defendant got into a disagreement outside of the Wayne County Courthouse after the verdict was handed down, and had to be escorted away from the building by bailiffs.

Things went smoothly until the verdict was handed down, which will see Atkinson serve 15 to 19 years behind bars.

As Atkinson was escorted from the courtroom, people in the rows began talking and moving around, and one person accused him of smirking at Wimbush's family.

It was not clear whether or not he actually had smirked at anyone.

This led to an argument in the hallway outside the courtroom, and the bailiffs ordered everyone to leave.

The two factions began arguing outside the courthouse, and  additional law enforcement support was called in as the bailiffs tried to keep the peace.

Everyone in both parties parted ways and left the area before the verbal argument turned into anything more.

Assistant District Attorney Davis Weddle, who prosecuted the case, said officers were dispatched to the area of Olivia Lane and Carver Drive on June 26, 2016.

When police arrived on scene, they found a crowd, and when they worked their way through the group of people, they found Wimbush lying on the ground bleeding from a bullet hole in his cheek.

Wimbush had no pulse.

Weddle said Wimbush's girlfriend at the time approached officers and told them she was a witness to what happened.

Weddle said she told police that she and Wimbush had gone to a convenience store named Kaiser's the day he was killed.

As they walked up to the store, they saw a group of guys standing outside.

Weddle said one of them identified as Atkinson approached Wimbush and accused him of "talking (expletive) on Facebook" about his cousin.

Wimbush's girlfriend recognized Atkinson as someone she knew by the Facebook name of "Billy Bad Habit."

Wimbush's girlfriend said they didn't have time for the nonsense, and she and Wimbush went inside the store.

As they came back outside, she told officers Atkinson continued to argue with Wimbush, and they began to fight, and a second person entered the fight against Wimbush.

Weddle said when the second person began fighting Wimbush, Atkinson pulled a gun and shot Wimbush in the face and chest.

Atkinson's defense attorney, William Spence, told the court that the defense maintained Wimbush pulled up his shirt and revealed a gun, and that is why Atkinson pulled a gun and began shooting.

After Wimbush was shot, he began running away before collapsing on the ground.

Wimbush's girlfriend ran back to her residence and called police.

When she got back to the scene, police had already arrived.

Authorities then launched an investigation, and Wimbush's girlfriend was able to identify Atkinson as the person who shot Wimbush out of a photographic lineup.

Atkinson's father called investigators and told them he wanted to help them find his son.

Shortly after that call, Atkinson turned himself in on the charges.

Atkinson did not say anything to the court or to Wimbush's family when he was given the opportunity after being sentenced.