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The Journal Gazette

  • Amos

Thursday, August 10, 2017 1:00 am

Jury finds man guilty of attempted murder

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

A jury convicted a man Wednesday of trying to kill a former girlfriend during a bullet-fueled car chase and shooting a year ago.

Willie Amos, 40, was found guilty in Allen Superior Court of attempted murder, dealing a Schedule I drug and being a serious violent felon in possession of a handgun.

Defense attorney Anthony Churchward argued no one could prove Amos intended to kill Rosita York. Amos stopped shooting her even though he had more bullets. The only issue at hand was the intent. Churchward told jurors to put emotion aside and ask what are the objective truths.

However, two days before  Amos shot York, he told her he was going to kill her. He told her her days were numbered, Deputy Prosecutor Christine Neilson told jurors during closing arguments.

On Aug. 24, 2016, Amos found York near her mother's house, chased her in his car, ramming it repeatedly and forcing her to crash into a tree. He then shot her three times as she tried to run and then kicked her in the face and stomped on her head before fleeing.

Investigators also found more than 36 grams of the drug MDMA in his SUV, along with four cellphones and another magazine.

This is Amos' second attempted murder conviction. He was convicted in 1995 of shooting a teen nine times in the back, arm and neck and was sentenced to 45 years. He was released after about 20 years.

While the jury convicted him of attempted murder and the drug charge, Judge John Surbeck convicted him of the gun charge. The jury wasn't aware of that charge.

“Make no mistake about it,” Neilson told the jury. “Willie Amos intended to take her life that day.”

Amos doesn't dispute any of the evidence and doesn't have to make any statement of intent, Neilson said.

The only reason he didn't shoot her more times is that York played dead, Neilson said.

When police arrested him, she said, he asked, “Did she die?”

At one point during the trial, Amos became angry at a firearms expert's testimony that York was shot with hollow-point bullets. Amos claimed he had only snub-nose solid bullets.

Surbeck became angry at Amos' outburst, retired the jury and ordered a break. After the break, a sheriff's deputy testified that Amos had told him, “I'm guilty. I did some stupid (expletive).”

Deputy Prosecutor Tasha Lee repeated during closing arguments that Amos had told York, “I'm gonna kill you.” Lee said Amos shot York with “a big-ass gun with big-ass bullets on the left side of her body,” where the heart is, then kicked her in he face and stomped on her head.

“Hold him responsible,” she said.

Also at issue was whether Amos, who had MDMA in his car, was guilty of dealing drugs or whether they were for his own use.

Churchward argued that the prosecution failed to prove he owned the SUV he used to pursue York and where the drugs were found and didn't prove the drugs were his.

fgray@jg.net