A jury cleared a Yazoo City man of murder last week, instead convicting him of manslaughter in a 2014 shooting.
Matthew Banks, 18, was found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of Terrance Stuckey, who was 16 years old when he was killed on Oct. 8, 2014. Banks was also only 16 at the time of the shooting.
Prosecutors called the shooting “an execution,” with Banks shooting Stuckey five times in the head before dumping his body in a wooded area.
The defense, however, said the shooting was in self defense, with Banks firing shots after fearing for his life during an attempted robbery by Stuckey. The defense maintained that Banks’ actions following the shooting were committed in a panicked state.
Although the district attorney’s office pushed for a murder verdict, the jury settled for the lesser conviction of manslaughter.
Banks began working at his father’s convenience store, Supa Dave’s, on West Third Street after school in an effort by his father “to give him something to do.”
The store was a place where many patrons would buy items but also “laugh, joke and shoot pool,” according to Banks.
Stuckey was a frequent visitor to the store and a friend of Banks.
“We’ve been friends since middle school,” Banks admitted on the stand last Friday.
Banks said prior to the day of the shooting, he had never been in trouble. He said he kept to himself.
“I’ve never been in a fist fight,” Banks said. “I’ve never had a reason to.”
Stuckey arrived at the store around 5 p.m. on Oct. 8, 2014. After playing a game of pool, he left.
“He told me he would be right back,” Banks said.
When Stuckey returned 40 minutes later, Banks said he gave him a free Gatorade and a bag of chips.
“I just gave it to him,” Banks said. “I always gave it to him.”
After returning from a second exit, Banks said Stuckey began asking him for $200 to get a car. After joking about it, he said Stuckey then asked for a ride to Genesis Court to see his girlfriend.
“I told him I would give him a ride when I got off work,” Banks said.
When the store closed for the evening, Banks said Stuckey stood outside with about eight other people. He also said Stuckey saw Banks’ father give him some cash.
Banks said he then agreed to take Stuckey to Genesis Court, which is about two minutes away from Supa Dave’s.
That is when the evening took a turn when Banks said Stuckey attempted to rob him.
“He hit me on my jaw,” Banks said. “He grabs my face and goes into my right pocket. He had some of my money in his hand. I grabbed a gun in between the seat and the console.”
That is when Banks said things began to happen “instantly.”
Banks said he and Stuckey began to wrestle in the car. He also said he didn’t intend to shoot Stuckey.
“I just thought it would scare him, and he would give my money back,” Banks said.
That was when the shots were fired.
“I panicked,” Banks said. “It was the first time I was involved with something like this.”
Banks said he then drove to Second Street.
“I pulled him out of the car,” Banks said. “I got in my car and drove home. I didn’t know what to do.”
Banks admits that he went to his father, crying.
“He told me the best thing we could do was call the police department,” Banks said.
Banks said he never tried to hide the gun, which remained in his car.
After officer Gabriel Johnson arrived on the scene, Banks said he (Johnson) eventually pulled the gun from the his car after hearing what happened.
Banks said he told Johnson that he did pull the trigger “during the tussle.” He also admitted that the gun was not registered, and he didn’t know if it was stolen or not.
Banks then said both Johnson and his father told him, “then it’s not your gun.”
“I just stopped talking and looked,” Banks said, adding that he remained silent for about five minutes.
When officer Doug Kirkland arrived on the scene Banks said he stuck with what his father and Johnson said... “it’s not my gun.”
Banks would eventually change his story that Stuckey had the gun during the tussle.
Officer Tilmon Clifton soon arrived on the scene as well, and everyone made their way to Stuckey’s body. After answering a few questions, Banks said he was taken to the interrogation room at the police department, where he said, “I might have shot him.”
Banks said officer Johnson returned to book him.
“I said, ‘I told them what you wanted me to say,’” Banks continued. “He said, ‘be quiet. There’s cameras in here. Look around.’”
Banks said he remained in a holding cell for close to two days and was never interrogated again by investigators until an officer by the name of “Oliver” told Banks that his “story isn’t adding up.”
“I was telling the truth the whole time,” Banks said. “The officer and my dad was telling me it wasn’t my gun.”
Banks later said, “it was my gun. We were wrestling over the gun, and it went off. I did not want to kill my friend.”
Steve Yurtkuran, with the district attorney’s office, said based on statements, Banks failed to ever tell the police that Stuckey asked for money prior to the shooting.
“I told them the truth the whole time,” Banks said. “I told officers it was (Stuckey’s) gun because the officer and my dad told me it wasn’t my gun.”
Banks continued to say he wasn’t lying because he was going by what his father and officer Johnson said.
Yurtkuran said Stuckey was shot two times in the front of his face and three times behind his ear.
“First, how did he keep tussling with two gunshots to the head,” Yurtkuran asked.
“The shots happened so fast at one time,” Banks replied.
“Is Terrance Stuckey a superhero,” Yurtkuran asked.
David Linzey, with the district attorney’s office, asked the jury how could Banks have “accidentally” shot Stuckey five times.
“When the defendant talked to the first officer, he said it was his gun,” he continued. “The second officer, he said it was Terrance’s gun. He brought it with him. Third officer, it was Terrance’s gun.”
A month later, Banks then said it was his own gun,” Linzey said.
“He changed his story back,” Linzey said. “All of a sudden, it was his gun.”
Linzey said the shooting was not in self defense and there was no attempted robbery. .
“This was an absolute execution, five shots to the head,” Linzey said. “There were no shots in the roof. No windows broken out. No shots to the body. It was five direct shots to various parts of his head. (Banks) wanted to make sure the job was done.”
Linzey asked the jury to also consider what Banks did with Stuckey’s body.
”He dumped the body in a cold, wooded area...just like he was a dog,” Linzey said. “And all he did was tell a lie after a lie to officer after officer.”
Linzey said “self defense” doesn’t make sense.
“Why would (Stuckey) have robbed a bigger man, a man who gave him items, a man he saw everyday at the store he frequented everyday,” Linzey asked.
Linzey asked the jury to consider that Banks shot Stuckey five times in the head, dumped his body and lied multiple times.
“These are the actions of a cold-blooded killer,” Linzey said.
Dexter Woodberry, Banks’ attorney, said Banks shouldn’t be blamed for listening to his father and the police officer.
“This was a 16-year-old kid,” Woodberry said. “A police officer, his father tell him that it is not his gun. He gets confused. Officer Johnson and his father made a stupid mistake. And Banks got quiet.”
Woodberry said Stuckey intended to rob Banks the entire time.
“We have all been 16 years old before,” he said. “He could have made it to his girlfriend’s house. He would have been there in five minutes. Matthew Banks was his target that night. He wanted to rob him of that hard earned money.”
Woodberry said Stuckey’s body was found 300 feet away.
“Banks was not driving around Yazoo City, trying to hide the body,” Woodberry said.
Woodberry said Banks’ actions were “justifiable homicide; nothing but self defense.”
The jury took about three hours in deliberation, agreeing on the manslaughter conviction.
Judge Jannie Lewis sentenced Banks the following Monday to a 15-year sentence, with ten years suspended.
Banks will serve five years, followed by probation.