After a weeklong trial, a Lancaster County jury Friday found a 22-year-old man guilty of three felonies for his part in a daytime shootout in May.

Trevor Groves admitted being in the 5400 block of Benton Street at the time, but he took the stand and denied he was one of three shooters.

He said he heard gunshots and saw a black man in a black shirt with a gun running and got in his car to get out of there.

"Did you have a gun in your hand that day?" defense attorney Korey Reiman asked him. "Did you fire a gun?"

Groves answered no to both.

Lincoln police didn't find him with a gun or any physical evidence tying him to the crime, but two witnesses placed him at the scene, including one who has known him since junior high.

So did one of the men shooting at him.

Lebron Benson, 38, testified as part of a deal with prosecutors.

In closing arguments Thursday, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Dan Packard said Groves was upset with Benson.

"This is all because Mr. Groves wants to even a score with Mr. Benson," he said.

At about 1:45 p.m. May 10, 911 calls started coming in about men shooting at each other.

Packard said the shootout happened outside of a cluster of four-plex apartment buildings and that four to six shots, maybe more, were fired. The incident started in the front yard, he said, and when Benson realized he was being shot at he ran to the backyard.

A .45-caliber bullet was found lodged in the yard, like one found lodged in a car Groves had borrowed; and two air conditioning units had been hit in the crossfire.

No one was hit, but the shooting led to a lockdown two blocks away at Dawes Middle School.

Reiman said the trial came down to the testimony of Benson, who came to Lincoln to hide from law enforcement looking for him on a 2006 homicide in Tennessee. Benson, he said, hung out at a drug dealer's house smoking pot all day.

"That's the state's star witness," he said in closing arguments.

Packard countered with this: "Crimes conceived in hell don't have angels as witnesses."

He said Groves lied to police because he didn't think the neighbors would have the courage to come forward. But they did.

And he asked the jury to find him guilty of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, attempted first-degree assault and use of a firearm to commit a felony.

Following the jury's verdicts, Groves is looking at a minimum of eight years in prison for the crimes.

Benson's brother, Demetrius Withers, also is charged in connection with the shootout and is awaiting trial.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.



Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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