NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – A federal jury on Friday convicted a father and son from Niagara Falls of all charges in the shooting death of Kevin O. Turner, a 21-year-old Buffalo rapper, in a narcotics conspiracy case.
The jury found Lavon Parks, 32, and his father, James C. Parks, 58, guilty of discharging a firearm causing death, which comes with a minimum 10-year prison sentence and possibly a life term, in addition to other narcotics and firearm charges.
According to prosecutors, Lavon Parks fired six shots that killed Turner on the afternoon of Jan. 21, 2018, as he left a residence in Niagara Falls. They believe Parks targeted Turner, a rival drug dealer, due to concerns about his drug territory. The 2019 indictment accused the father, son, and five other defendants of selling cocaine in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo areas between May 2017 and March 2019.
The trial included allegations of a conspiracy to sell cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico to locations in Western New York and other states, as well as video evidence of the Parks driving around the neighborhood shortly before Turner’s death. The defense attorneys questioned the credibility of the prosecution witnesses, some of whom had run-ins with the legal system.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo criticized the federal government’s discovery practices and disallowed some evidence, including 71,000 pages of downloaded information from Lavon Parks’ iPhone. The guilty verdicts led to the father and son being taken into custody, with sentencing set for June.
The case highlighted concerns about the disclosure of evidence, and the judge described the government’s actions as a Brady violation. The trial was postponed due to the government’s failure to promptly turn over evidence to the defense, and concerns were raised about the credibility of the witnesses.