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Man found not guilty of killing ODU student in 2011

This is the second time Javon Doyle has gone to trial for Chris Cummings' death. A judge declared a mistrial in August 2022 after jurors couldn't reach a verdict.

NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk jury has acquitted a man of all charges in the 2011 murder of an Old Dominion University student.

Javon Doyle was found not guilty on 13 charges, including murder and aggravated malicious wounding, in the death of Chris Cummings.

Investigators said someone shot and killed Cummings in his home near ODU's campus on June 10, 2011. His roommate, Jake Carey, was also shot multiple times but survived after several surgeries. Investigators said Cummings sold marijuana from inside the home.

Doyle broke down inside the courtroom when the judge read the verdict aloud.

"It’s a blessing but the whole time, me my aunt, and my mom, we never doubted it," Doyle said. "They believed in me from day one”

This is the second time Doyle has gone to trial for Cummings' death. A judge declared a mistrial in August 2022 after jurors couldn't reach a verdict. Wednesday marked day one of the second trial. Jurors reached their verdict Thursday.

"I told the detectives from the day they picked me up I was innocent," Doyle said. "And that’s what happens when you believe in God and have a family that stands beside you and good people on the jury stand that are going to be honest.” 

Cummings' father, James Cummings, sat through each trial and said he’s disappointed.

"This is not what we were hoping for," Cummings said. "We rely on the justice system to do their job and we have to have faith and confidence in it, otherwise it won’t work for anybody.”

Cummings' roommate, Jake Carey, who got shot several times during the shooting, also testified during both trials.

“It has been a long road," Carey said. "So, I am pretty upset about it. But again, it’s up to the jury to decide.”

During this new trial, an inmate testified that he knew Doyle in jail around 2011 and 2012. The inmate claimed that Doyle told him he and his friends had shot Cummings.

On Thursday morning, the defense rested after putting Doyle on the witness stand. Doyle told jurors he never met Cummings, never went to his house, and never bought marijuana from Cummings.

On the stand, Doyle also said he never told the inmate he committed murder, saying, "I don't even know the guy. I met him and that was it."

While cross-examining investigators, Doyle's defense attorney made it clear that DNA evidence collected at the home did not place Doyle at the scene.

During closing arguments, the prosecutor told jurors her team has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Doyle is guilty, citing the inmate's testimony claiming Doyle confessed in jail and a neighbor who identified Doyle in a photo lineup to investigators.

The defense attorney told jurors the Commonwealth left a lot of questions unanswered. She said investigators found no DNA evidence linking Doyle to the crime scene and that cell phone records show Cummings interacted with a lot of people to sell drugs and told them where he lived.

After closing arguments were made, Judge Michelle Atkins sent jurors back to deliberate around 1 p.m. 

The jury came back with the not-guilty verdict after less than two hours of deliberation.

Doyle's attorney Emily Mun said in a statement she's relieved:

"I am thrilled and relieved that Mr. Doyle has his life back," Munn said. "Imagine the nightmare of being arrested for something you didn't do, being held in jail for a year, and trusting that the system would eventually reveal the truth. It is an experience no human should ever endure and I'm glad that justice prevailed today."

Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney Ramin Fatehi said the jury has spoken and he respects their verdict.

"Strong cases lead to guilty pleas. Tough cases go to trial, and in Norfolk we are not afraid to try the tough ones. We believed that the evidence proved Mr. Doyle’s guilt, and we believe that Mr. Carey and the Cummings family deserved closure and their day in court. While we are disappointed in the verdict of the jury, we are grateful for their thoughtful service to the community," Fatehi wrote on Twitter.

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