Dowagiac man guilty of murderPublished 10:23am Thursday, April 26, 2012
Jaren Wade of Dowagiac was convicted of all seven charges, including first-degree murder, Wednesday morning by a Cass County Circuit Court jury.
First-degree murder carries a penalty of mandatory life in prison.
Wade turns 21 on April 30.
A jury of seven men and five women deliberated about five hours over two days to reach their unanimous verdict, which Prosecutor Victor Fitz welcomed.
“I’m very pleased by the verdict,” Fitz said. “Justice was done for the county and the family. The message is, settle disputes through the court system in a lawful fashion or pay a heavy price.
“It was important for the community to understand justice will be upheld in Cass County and the taking of a life will not be tolerated,” said Fitz, who tried the case, which began April 17. “Trial evidence showed it to be an execution-style slaying with three bullets to the back. The defendant played a game and now he has to pay the price.”
Darius Nickens was shot once in the arm and twice in the back, with one shot to the back proving fatal outside 210 Grand Blvd. in Dowagiac on April 13, 2011.
The jury also convicted Wade of all other charges:
• Carrying a concealed weapon (five-year felony).
• Carrying a weapon with unlawful intent (five-year penalty).
• Unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle (five-year penalty).
• Three counts of felony firearm (two-year consecutive penalties).
Sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. June 1 in front of trial Judge Michael Dodge.