A jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday night in the trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing a Jackson State University professor.
Melvin Potts was found guilty of murder and vehicle theft. He was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, as well as 10 years for vehicle theft.
Potts was convicted in the May 21, 2014, death of Garrick Shelton.
“This is bittersweet as they’re coming up on the anniversary of their loved one’s death. They’re also able to know justice was served in this case. The killer of Dr. Shelton will now spend the rest of his life behind bars,” District Attorney Michael Guest said.
“He’s disappointed. Any time you get convicted and you know you’re going to spend the rest of your life in prison, it’s a pretty dramatic event. I mean, he’s disappointed about that,” said Kevin Camp, Potts’ attorney.
A witness testified Wednesday that Potts and Shelton met on Tagged.com a month before the slaying. Potts told police that he and Shelton agreed to meet for oral sex, according to testimony. Shelton picked up Potts on St. Charles Street near Ellis Avenue in Jackson on May 2, 2014, and they drove to Shelton’s home in Madison, the witness testified.
When Shelton spotted a gun in Potts’ waistband, he told him to leave, according to testimony.
Prosecutors said Potts told several stories about the motive for the killing, including self-defense.
“This is a self-defense issue, that basically you had an individual that was invited over to Dr. Shelton’s house (and) things got out of hand,” Camp said. “Dr. Shelton was the one who started the violence and unfortunately ended up getting killed by it.”
Potts testified that he shot Shelton after the professor cut him on the hand with a knife. Potts said he stabbed Shelton while they were wrestling over the knife.
Prosecutors said Shelton was stabbed 18 times.
Potts didn’t have an answer when prosecutors asked him why he didn’t leave after Shelton attacked him.
“When I shot him, he got back up, and he was angry,” Potts testified.
Potts was accused of taking Shelton’s Xbox, TV and car. Investigators said Potts told police that he took the Xbox to give to his brother.
Detectives found several text messages between Potts and Shelton that were sent before the killing.
“We want the jury to have all the facts, but I hope what the jury will focus on is not how he got to the house, but what happened in that house after Dr. Shelton was killed,” Guest said.