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Man acquitted in road rage slaying of child

In May, an appeals court agreed with a judge that he deserved a new trial.

Associated Press
Published August 7, 2005


BUSHNELL - A man was acquitted of killing a 5-year-old girl in a road rage shooting, about three months after an appeals court agreed to order a second trial in the case.

A jury found Joshua Walsh not guilty Friday of third-degree murder and other charges in the death of Marishka Lovett, a kindergartener struck by a shotgun blast fired into her father's car on Feb. 1, 2003.

The verdict spared Walsh a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Jurors deliberated more than eight hours over two days. Walsh, 25, was found guilty of third-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and shooting into a vehicle last year. But, in May, an appeals court agreed with the circuit judge who had presided in the case that Walsh deserved a new trial.

Sumter County Circuit Court Judge Hale R. Stancil decided after the first jury verdict to order a new trial because of possible errors and unexamined issues in the first trial. Among the problems, Stancil criticized the jury instructions and accused a prosecutor of misstating the law.

Defense lawyer Michael Graves said the testimony of Marishka's dad, Tyrone Lovett, made the difference in the second trial.

Tyrone Lovett did not take the stand in the first trial but told jurors he chased a car driven by Walsh's brother-in-law, Luther "Wes" Parker. He testified he pursued the sports car for 20 miles in anger through Sumter and Lake counties, to scare its occupants, Parker and Walsh's younger brother, Jeremiah.

"It gave a fuller, truer picture of what happened that night," Graves said.

Graves argued Walsh used deadly force justifiably, firing the shotgun at the back of a car he thought was trying to run over Parker or Jeremiah Walsh.