After hearing two weeks of testimony, it took a jury less than three hours Thursday to convict Wayne Thurman, 18, of first-degree murder.
Thurman was found guilty of killing 15-year-old Cedar Pfenning for a drug deal that went sour. He took Pfenning for a drunken walk into the woods south of Bonners Ferry last August and fired four shots into Pfenning with a .44-caliber pistol. Pfenning’s body was in the woods for nine days before being found by authorities.
Thurman sat down and cried when the verdict was read. He faces the death penalty or life in prison. He hugged his mother in the courtroom before being handcuffed and led away by Boundary County sheriff’s deputies.
“I think we got justice for Cedar Pfenning today,” said Boundary County Prosecutor Denise Woodbury after the verdict. “I knew Cedar Pfenning personally and liked him. It feels good to see justice done.”
Woodbury has not yet decided if she will seek a death sentence for Thurman, calling the trial a depressing, emotional affair.
“We have an 18-year-old killing a 15-year-old. That’s sad,” she said. “I feel for both families.”
Woodbury and deputy prosecutor Todd Reed called Pfenning’s death senseless and cold-hearted. Two of the bullets Thurman fired hit Pfenning in the back as he tried to run for his life. The last shot was fired into Pfenning’s head at close range.
Defense attorney’s tried to convince jurors the evidence in the case did not point to Thurman but to two other people who drank and used drugs with the teenagers.
Attorney Jonathan Cottrell called some of the state’s witnesses slimy and disreputable and even insinuated one state investigator lied on the witness stand.
“We said at the beginning that when this case was over you wouldn’t be able to tell who shot (Cedar Pfenning),” Cottrell said. “There was no real investigation of other suspects.”
The defense’s argument was all smoke and mirrors and calling a state investigator a liar was “bunk,” Reed said.
The evidence in the case was very clear, he added. Thurman talked to friends about killing Pfenning for losing money in a drug deal. Thurman was the last one seen with Pfenning and was wearing the gun used to kill the boy when he was arrested, Reed said.
Thurman also confessed to authorities he shot Pfenning after a day of drinking and smoking marijuana. He was driving back to the murder scene the day authorities found Pfenning’s partly decomposed body. Thurman was arrested and told police to let a companion go free because his friend was innocent.
“I’m guilty. I’m guilty man,” he said in a tape-recorded conversation. Thurman even confessed to his cellmate about the killing and to several of his friends.
“We brought you a body, a gun and an admission,” Reed told the jury in his closing argument. “We know who killed Cedar Pfenning. The evidence shows it was not a bogeyman or a perjuring cop, but Wayne Thurman. This is a person that went out and wanted to kill Cedar Pfenning and he got the job done.” , DataTimes
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