Witnesses testify teen charged in double shooting wanted to turn life around

Victoria Taylor

DOWNTOWN JACKSON -- Juvenile Judge Christy Little has determined 17-year-old Jernigel Blackwell will stand trial as an adult.

Blackwell, who is also known as Jernigel Waller, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Shomari Peterson and attempted first-degree murder of a 21-year-old victim. Charges stem from the fatal July shooting of Peterson at the Parkway East Apartments.

"Based on the proof presented, it's very obvious there is probable cause. Now the specifics of whether it's attempted first or premeditation issue, I'm going to leave that to a jury and a grand jury," Little said.

During the transfer hearing, Little read from Blackwell's previous criminal history, starting when he was 12 years old. "What your future holds is not in my hands after today," Little said.

On Wednesday, witnesses testified the fatal shooting stemmed from a fight between two girls the night before. Witnesses recount hearing between five and 20 gunshots. According to investigators, five shell casings and three possible projectiles from a .45-caliber semi-automatic weapon were found at the crime scene.

"Everybody started running, everybody started screaming," testified one witness when asked what happened when the gunshots rang out.

Blackwell spent two years on the baseball team at North Side High School, according to witness testimony. His former coach says Blackwell wanted to change.

"He wanted to live a different life than what he had seen, and he was working hard for that to happen," said the coach, also adding he and Blackwell had a few heart-to-heart conversations about managing baseball, school and working to help support his family.

Some Parkway East residents and neighbors of Peterson say they hate that Blackwell is being charged as an adult. "It's sad you know, because it still is a child, but it's good because a child got killed, but it still hurts," Khristina Howard said. Howard said she does think the judge's decision is justified.

Blackwell is being held without bond.


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