HOUSTON (FOX 26) - UPDATE (7/7/16) : A jury has found Deron Taylor, another teen involved in the robbery and murder of 22-year-old Joshua Woods, guilty of capital murder. Police say Woods was targeted for his new pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Taylor was just 16 years old at the time when Woods was killed in December 2012.
He has been tried as an adult, and the judge in the case has sentenced Taylor to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 40 years due to his age at the time of the murder.
Prosecutors say Taylor fired four times but they say it was Neal Bland's bullet that killed Woods.
Bland was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
A jury has found Neal Bland guilty of capital murder for the December 2012 shooting death of 22-year-old Joshua Woods. Police say Woods was targeted for his new pair of Air Jordan sneakers. The judge has sentenced Neal Bland to life in prison without parole.
The trial was the first for that of four teens charged with the murder of Woods. Bland was only 18 years old when the shooting was reported. In fact, investigators say it was on Bland's 18th birthday when they say he shot and killed Woods.
Detectives say Bland and three other teens followed Woods and his friend from Willowbrook Mall on Back Dec. 21, 2012, and ambushed the young men for the limited edition newly-released Nike Air Jordan shoes they had just purchased.
However, while the teens were attempting to take the shoes, Woods drove away and cops say 14 shots were fired into his car. Woods was shot in the head and crashed the vehicle.
Dazie Williams had just spoken with her son on the phone. Twelve minutes later she received a frantic call from her son's friend. She rushed to her son’s side and tried to pull him from the wrecked car as he sat slumped, shot and unresponsive.
"My son had hit a house and ruptured a gas line and I didn’t want anything to happen to my son. I didn't want the car to blow up, " explains Williams.
"My son was older than him. This was a young kid and he took somebody’s life and for me to see him for the first time it just gives you chills," adds Williams.
"It’s just unbelievable and again, the reason by which all of this took place had something to do with shoes. I just can't wrap my head around that," says community activist Deric Muhammad.
In a motion to dismiss hearing, Bland took the stand saying he was coerced into confessing to cops and claimed to have been threatened by police. The judge dismissed that motion. Although Bland is pleading not guilty, prosecutors say they have, among other things, forensic proof it was Bland’s handgun used to murder Woods.
Williams says she has forgiven Bland.
"He’s already taken a part of my heart. I can’t hold hatred because then he’s going to have every bit of me. I can't let that happen, " says the grieving mom. However, she says the shoe company should also shoulder some blame.
"We believe Nike needs to reexamine and change the way they market these shoes. If you got a million people who want a product and you only put out 100 then you create a frenzy that’s a marketing tool for your company but at the same time it creates a dangerous environment," explains Muhammad.
"My son was an organ donor. My son’s heart still beats on. My son’s life being taken, he saved four other people’s lives". Williams describes her son as a family man. She says the 22-year-old had a son and two jobs to take care of him.
I reached out to Nike for comment. The shoe company hasn’t yet responded.