- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The student accused of shooting a classmate inside Ballou High School was acquitted yesterday of first- and second-degree murder charges.

Jurors also cleared Thomas J. Boykin, 19, of assault with intent to kill. They could not reach a verdict on a manslaughter charge, for which prosecutors plan to retry him. A D.C. Superior Court judge tentatively set a trial date of April 4.

Boykin was convicted of three lesser charges stemming from the Feb. 2 shooting of fellow student James Richardson. Boykin was found guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm and carrying an unlicensed pistol.

During the trial, Boykin took the stand in his own defense, testifying that he thought James, 17, was reaching for a gun or knife. Boykin told the court that he accidentally shot himself while pulling out his gun, which caused him to panic.

James was a star football player for Ballou and had been held back twice. Boykin’s mother said James had threatened her son.

“My son feared for his life,” Pearl Boykin said outside court. But she later called it “a tragedy on both ends.”

James’ mother left court without commenting.

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