Jazmine Barnes murder: Guilty verdict reached for Larry Woodruffe in 7-year-old's drive-by shooting

Brooke Taylor Image
Saturday, April 30, 2022
Guilty verdict brings closure 3 years after Jazmine Barnes killed
EMBED <>More Videos

A conviction and a life sentence were handed down for the man who killed 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, but for the victim's family, the outcome was bittersweet.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston jury has returned a guilty verdict in the capital murder trial of Larry Woodruffe, who was tried in the killing of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes during a drive-by shooting in 2018.

Woodruffe was then given an automatic life sentence without parole.

Jurors took just five and a half hours Friday to reach a decision on Woodruffe's fate. Earlier in the day, both sides presented closing arguments in the high-profile case following a week of emotional testimony.

SEE ALSO: Jazmine Barnes' dad says wrong man is on trial as both sides rest cases: 'This is a circus'

"White man in a red truck." That was a description of the alleged gunman that was prominent in the wake of a 7-year-old's murder on the East Beltway. And it became a point of contention in court to the point that the victim's father doesn't believe the man is his daughter's killer.

On Friday, jurors were shown Jazmine's bullet wound in her neck that she suffered in the December 2018 shooting on the East Beltway feeder.

The central issue that Woodruffe's attorneys posed to jurors: investigators spent little time deeply pursuing the "white man in the red pickup" description given by Jazmine's sisters in the immediate aftermath. They contend tips motivated by civil rights influencers pushed police into switching gears.

SEE MORE: Sheriff releases sketch of suspect in killing of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes (from 2019)

The defense also tried to paint Woodruffe's friend, Eric Black, as an "untrustworthy drug dealer." Black, whom investigators say was behind the wheel of the car believed to be involved in the shooting, testified against his friend this week.

However, prosecutors turned to DNA evidence as a central piece of their case, saying Woodruffe's DNA matched samples found on the murder weapon, as well as on bullet fragments found where Jazmine died in the drive-by shooting.

PREVIOUS STORY: Details reveal suspects fired at Jazmine Barnes' vehicle by mistake

The state acknowledged the conflicting "white man in the red pickup" description but insisted the white man in a red pickup truck who the sisters saw just happened to be passing by at the same time of the shooting.

Most striking in the prosecution's closing was the far-reaching consequences being made by the jurors' decision when it comes to crimes against children.

The Woodruffe trial jury would send a message that law and order will be restored with a conviction, prosecutors posed.

Eyewitness News reporter Brooke Taylor has been at the courthouse for the final stages of the trial. Follow her for instant updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.