Man Who Likened Himself To George Zimmerman Found Guilty of Second Degree Murder
Twenty-nine year old Lukace Kendle is going to prison. Friday, he was convicted of second-degree murder with a firearm and attempted murder in the June 1, 2012, shooting that killed Kijuan Byrd, 29, and paralyzed Michael Smathers, 38. Kendle faces life behind bars.
Smathers, who is paralyzed from Kendle’s bullets, testified at the trial that after barbecuing, he and Michael Smathers went to Club Rol-lexx to shoot pool. They played a few games and watched the Miami Heat game, then left the Club and went to Smather’s truck in the parking lot to smoke a joint. They had planned to go back inside the club.
Kendle showed up, parking in a tight spot next to Smathers’ truck. He got out of his car and put on an all-black uniform with a vest, baton, gloves, a knife, ammunition and his gun. The three men exchanged looks. Michael and Kijuan got out of Michael’s truck to go back into the club. Kendle opened fire. He continued firing bullets into Kijuan Byrd’s back even as he tried to crawl to safety under Michael’s truck.
The killing was captured on video surveillance.
Kendle was a security guard for Club Rol-lexx where at about 11 p.m. on June 1, 2012, the shooting took place. Kendle mounted a stand your ground defense where he likened himself to George Zimmerman, the man charged with 2nd degree murder in the killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. In his opening statement at trial, Kendle alleged that the evidence against him was fabricated, stating;
“The reason the evidence was fabricated is because I’m white. The subjects I shot were African American. I can prove that. What they’re not allowing me to tell you is that I was arrested because of the George Zimmerman shooting.”
George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. He was not arrested until April 2012 and his trial was in June-July, 2013. Kendle killed Kijuan and paralyzed Michael in June 2012, two months after Zimmerman’s arrest, but his trial was not until last week. You might ask why. It was because Kendle’s mental health was questioned.
Twice, a judge declared him mentally incompetent to proceed to trial. Kendle underwent rehabilitation and then insisted that he represent himself at his trial. During jury selection, Kendle declared he wanted an “all female African-American” jury to decide his case. He refused to allow his court-appointed stand-by counsel, Jamaican-American lawyer Abe Bailey, to sit by his side at the defendant’s table.
Kendle presented no evidence at trial, and did not take the witness stand in his defense. He did however, try questioning Michael Smathers about bullet trajectory. The judge sustained the prosecution’s objections because Michael is not an expert.
Michael Smathers was brought into the courtroom in a hospital bed where he testified of that night. He kept his cool as Kendle cross-examined him.
The court has set October 9th for a hearing and at that time, will set a sentencing date.
The below video is from a hearing last year where Kendle was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.