Jury: Stringer guilty of murder

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 15, 2000

Staff Writer

Sept. 14, 2000 10 PM

It only took a jury 45 minutes to decide the fate of Deiallo Teron Stringer.

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Thursday afternoon, the 25-year-old was found guilty of the murder of Komommo Oju Offem, 18, of Tuskegee who was a student at Troy State University when he died.

Offem was shot in the right temple on at approximately 1:44 a.m. on March 6, 1998 outside New Image – also known as E.T.’s Lounge – on U.S. 231 South between Troy and Brundidge.

Circuit Judge Thomas Head will hold a sentencing hearing at 9 a.m., Oct. 6. In the meantime, Stringer is in the Pike County Jail.

As her son was being handcuffed and remanded into the custody of the sheriff, Stringer’s mother cried openly.

"This jury was faced with a tragic and extremely intense set of facts and circumstances to weigh and consider over a four-day period," defense attorney Randy Arnold said. "They received an enormous amount of troubling evidence during this trial.

"Any decision they could have made could not have been easy and we have to trust what they did was what our system asked them to do."

Arnold said it is not "right" to ask a jury to take information, such as what was presented this week, "and question their decision just because it didn’t turn out favorably."

Stringer, who is a former Troy State University student, has been living with his parents in Georgia since the incident. He was not enrolled in school at the time of the shooting.

The state was pleased with the jury’s decision.

"I’m pleased with the outcome and the jury’s verdict," District Attorney Mark Fuller said after the verdict was read.

"I take no pride in putting young people in the penitentiary for stupid, irresponsible conduct like this. I hope it (the conviction) sends a message to these kids that solving their problems with a gun will result in them going to the penitentiary."

He said "there are two wasted lives" that resulted from that shooting more than two years ago.

Before being given instructions by Head, the jury heard final remarks from Assistant District Attorney Larry Jarrell.

He reminded them that no matter what they decide, Stringer "will be alive. He will still have the opportunity to make something of himself."

As for Offem, "his opportunities are gone.

"Whatever you do won’t bring Komommo back, but it can bring some closure to this family," Jarrell said pointing in the direction of the victim’s parents.

With the pronouncement of the guilty verdict, the jury found Stringer intentionally killed Offem with a 22-caliber chrome-colored pistol he admitted to firing that early March morning.

The defendant testified Wednesday he did fire from the open window of his green Chevrolet Blazer, but had no intention of shooting Offem, whom he didn’t even know.

In his final comments, Arnold said nobody will ever really know what happened that night at the club.

"You may not and probably do not agree with what he or any of the guilty students did that night," Arnold said referring to the so-called "ritual" of shooting into the air during parties at the lounge.

"None of us can agree with what any of them did that night," Arnold said, reminding the jurors the state had to prove that "recklessness caused a young man’s death."

They obviously found that to be the case by declaring the defendant guilty of murder.

Now Stringer’s fate is in the hands of Head. Sentences for murder can be as severe as the death penalty in the state of Alabama.