Aspiring rapper accused of killing 9-year-old in Durham on trial in federal court

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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The federal trial for the aspiring rapper accused of killing 9-year-old Z'yon Person nearly three years ago is getting underway this week.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The federal trial for the man accused of killing 9-year-old Z'yon Person nearly three years ago is getting underway this week.

The shooting happened in Durham in August 2019.

Police said Z'yon was in a car with his aunt, Danyell Ragland, his sister and his cousins on the way to Pelican's to get snow cones around the corner when he was shot.

Initially, it was thought someone in the car was targeted. Prosecutors say now it was a case of mistaken identity.

"To watch Z'yon's family watch the evidence and try and muddle through the day: it's heartbreaking," said Virginia Bridges, the criminal justice reporter for the News and Observer. "It was just some really hard stories to hear in court."

Bridges said prosecutors on Tuesday heard testimony from Z'yon's aunt, who said Zyon was hanging out of the back of the window talking to friends in another car.

The aunt told Z'yon to get back inside but heard gunfire at the same time.

"She didn't seem to think it was aimed at her but she couldn't turn fast enough because another car was coming," Bridges said. "She said the car pulled around her and shot into the car. Then her son told her she had been shot in the arm."

Z'yon had been shot in the middle of the head and the aunt drove right to the hospital. Prosecutors also heard from doctors Tuesday who said they did everything they could to keep the boy alive until his parents could come to say their goodbyes.

Prosecutors say Antonio Davenport is the one who pulled the trigger. Davenport said he was in the area but blames the other two people in the car.

The beef between two gangs allegedly started days prior at the Streets at Southpoint where Davenport had gotten his chain stolen.

"They were out this night looking for revenge," Bridges said. "They thought these rival gang members were in Danyell Ragland's green Ford Explorer."

Davenport was a budding rap star named Lil Tony and had just signed on to tour with the group 83 Babies.

"They were traveling all over the US, singing at shows and they were getting media attention but obviously that all changed when he was charged with killing Z'yon Person," Bridges said.

She said she expects the trial to go for a week.