WACO, Texas — A jury found Waco smoke shop owner Tyler Clay guilty of capital murder Thursday.
Prosecutors spent the trial trying to prove Clay hired an acquaintance, Keith Spratt, to kill Joshua Pittman because Pittman robbed Clay at gunpoint after a dice game.
Pittman was shot and killed in December 2015 at the Pick N Play food mart on Faulkner Ln. in Waco. Clay and Spratt were both arrested on capital murder charges in 2017.
James Spears, an inmate at McLennan County Jail who claimed to be the one originally planned to be the hitman, took the stand Wednesday.
Spears said that while he was housed with Spratt in jail, Spratt told him Clay had paid him $15,000 to kill Pittman. According to Spears, Spratt told him he went to the smoke shop, put on a mask, walked in and shot Pittman.
Spears also said he had offered to help Spratt kill another man.
Defense Attorney Randy Schaffer argued the witnesses, like Spears, who connected Clay and Spratt could not prove Clay paid Spratt if he committed the crime.
"No one has ever believed a word from [Spears] in his life about anything," Schaffer said.
Schaffer said the Pittman had robbed several people and there would be more than only Clay who may have wanted to kill him.
Prosecutor Robert Moody told the jury the defense was essentially saying Pittman's life didn't matter.
He said Pittman's family still deserves justice, regardless of who took the stand as a witness.
"Obviously there are people that are going to be crummy around that," Moody said.
The defense called for a mistrial after the verdict because they said the in the prosecutors' final argument they had shown the jury evidence that should have been redacted.
The judge is reviewing whether or not to grant the mistrial. If mistrial is declared, the trial will start again from the beginning with a new jury.
The judge is scheduled to make a decision on Dec. 20.