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MAN ACQUITTED IN FATAL SHOOTING

A jury Thursday found Jerrell Ross innocent of murdering a Goodyear Avenue man but convicted him of criminal possession of a loaded .357 Magnum handgun he was seen carrying as he ran from the Walden Avenue murder scene in December.

Jailed since police arrested him on the roof of a nearby vacant building about 30 minutes after Damario Mallory was fatally shot in the back of the head about 10:30 a.m. Dec. 7, Ross, 20, displayed no reaction as the verdict was announced shortly after 5 p.m.

Ross was remanded to jail by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia pending his Nov. 16 sentencing on a felony weapons charge that carries a prison term of up to seven years.

His attorney, John J. Molloy, cited the statement Ross gave to police in December about running from the alleyway next to St. Luke's Mission of Mercy where Mallory was shot because he feared that he would be shot by Mallory's killer.

Molloy said he will urge the judge during a hearing Oct. 10 to set aside the weapons conviction and release Ross.

Three of the four witnesses whom prosecutor Walter L. Rooth III called during the three-day trial identified Ross as the shooter. Two women testified Wednesday about seeing Ross running from the alleyway carrying a handgun.

The women told the jury that Ross was wearing the same orange hood that another woman testified Tuesday that she saw the shooter wearing. She said she watched in horror as a man she was unable to identify shot Mallory in the back of the head.

A man who knew Ross told the jury Wednesday that he saw him walk into the alleyway seconds before the shooting.

The jury learned that Ross was last seen by the witnesses running into a Miller Street yard and that police recovered the discarded murder weapon as they tracked footprints from the murder scene to a vacant house in the 1300 block of Sycamore Street, where they arrested Ross.

In a case involving a single-shot murder, the jury learned that the discarded six-bullet Magnum still contained five live rounds when police recovered it.

The jury also learned that about 2 1/2 hours after the fatal shooting, Ross, who had been identified as carrying a handgun as he fled the shooting scene, tested positive for gunshot residue on his hands.

Ross, a South Domedion Street resident, could have been sentenced to 15 to 25 years to life in prison if convicted on the murder charge.

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