Jury finds teen not guilty of murder in 2020 shooting death at Wawa

Published 7:47 pm Friday, May 27, 2022

A Suffolk jury found a city teen not guilty Friday of second-degree murder and other felony charges in the December 2020 death of a Virginia Beach teen at the Wawa on Godwin Boulevard.

The verdict followed a four-day trial in Suffolk Circuit Court.

Marques Jauron Boneparte, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was found guilty of three misdemeanor charges. He pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun under the age of 18 and possession of a handgun following a voluntary detention order and was found guilty by the jury of distribution of less than one ounce of marijuana.

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Judge Robert H Sandwich Jr. imposed a 12-month sentence and a $2,500 fine for each of those charges, but Boneparte will receive credit for time already served.

Besides being found not guilty of the second-degree murder charge, the jury found Boneparte not guilty of felony homicide, shooting/stabbing in the commission of a felony, two charges of using a firearm in the commission of a felony-first offense, reckless handling of a firearm and shooting of firearm from vehicles.

The charges stemmed from a Dec. 5, 2020, shooting at the Wawa that resulted in the death of 18-year-old Torico Reaves Jr. of Virginia Beach. Boneparte’s name initially was not released when he was arrested, since he was still a juvenile, but when a grand jury indicted him in April 2021, because he had been transferred as an adult, his name was subsequently released and he was tried as an adult.

The jury, during its deliberations, had one question on whether Boneparte could be found guilty of reckless use of a firearm if he was shooting in self-defense. Succinctly, the judge told the jury members, “no.”

The jury deliberated for another 45 minutes before announcing it had reached a verdict.

Sandwich called the case “a tragedy on every level.”

Sandwich spoke following the verdict, addressing his comments directly to Boneparte after giving the teen an opportunity to speak. He declined.

During his comments, Sandwich referenced the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two adults were killed, as an example.

“I can tell by your reaction … that you feel some remorse,” Sandwich said, addressing Boneparte directly. “But I’m not sure you understand the danger.”

The judge said he was struck by one of Boneparte’s comments during the trial when the teen said that everybody’s got a gun.

“I make that assumption every day when I go out in the world,” Sandwich said, “that everybody’s got a gun.”

Sandwich said during the trial that a lot was said about how much lives matter, but he said “those are just words. People today, the only lives that matter to them is their own.”

He said everyone has to realize that everybody else’s life matters also.

“Yes, sir,” Bonaparte said in response.

Bonaparte’s attorney, Patrick Bales, argued that “the law of self-defense is the law of self-defense” in addressing the charges against his client. He praised the commonwealth’s case and said “the issue was in doubt for a long time (and) both sides had the opportunity to fairly state their cases and present them to the people.”

But ultimately, the jury found Boneparte not guilty on the most serious of the charges.

“The worst thing in these cases is that there is no winner,” Bales said.