- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CONROE, Texas (AP) - A Houston-area police officer has been convicted of manslaughter in the off-duty fatal shooting of a man suspected of shoplifting.

Jurors in Montgomery County on Wednesday will consider the penalty for 30-year-old Conroe police Sgt. Jason Blackwelder. He faces from probation up to 20 years in prison.

The officer was convicted Tuesday in last July’s fatal shooting of 19-year-old Russell Rios.

Blackwelder was with his wife when theft prevention authorities at a Wal-Mart began pursuing Rios. The officer, who was not in uniform, joined the chase into some woods.

Blackwelder has said he opened fire in self-defense after Rios was choking him while trying to flee.

Prosecutors say Blackwelder acted in a reckless manner.

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