- Associated Press - Thursday, January 16, 2020

BRIDGETON, N.J. (AP) - A jury returned a mixed verdict Thursday for the first of four defendants to stand trial in the death of a 9-year-old girl hit by a stray bullet as she slept in her bed in her home.

The Cumberland County jury found Leroy Frazier III, 21, not guilty of murder in the July 2018 death of Jennifer Trejo., but did convict him on counts of aggravated manslaughter, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault. The Bridgeton man now faces a potential life term when he’s sentenced Feb. 21.

Prosecutors said Frazier and three other Bridgeton men opened fire on some people outside a city home. No one in the targeted group was struck, but a stray round went through the rear wall of a nearby home and hit the child.

Investigators found 19 bullet casings and said they believe three guns were used.

Defense attorney Emily Bell had called the evidence against her client circumstantial in her closing argument on Wednesday. She also challenged the reliability of ballistics evidence and argued that surveillance footage didn’t conclusively prove her client was one of the men shown.

Frazier said he was at home with his daughter at the time of the shooting, but prosecutors cited Facebook messages they said contradicted his story.

The other three defendants are scheduled for trial later this month.

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