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Memphis man convicted in murder of man who thought he stole car

Demerrick Porter was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Christopher Smith. Two others - Jaelen Bell and Christian Key - are awaiting trial.
Credit: Shelby County Sheriff's Office
Demerrick Porter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UPDATE 7/16/2021 - (Shelby County District Attorney General News Release) - A 21-year-old man was convicted Friday in a 2018 case in which two cousins were shot, one of them fatally, while trailing suspected car thieves in southeast Memphis, said Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich.

A Criminal Court jury found Demerrick Porter guilty, as charged, of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 13 by Judge Paula Skahan.

The incident occurred on March 28, 2018, in the 4500 block of Cognac Cove near Riverdale Road and East Shelby Drive where Christopher Smith, 24, and his 23-year-old cousin had followed another vehicle.

The cousins suspected the three men in the vehicle had possibly stolen a car earlier and had been following them in the area. The suspects’ vehicle suddenly stopped in the cove, and three men came out firing guns.

Smith the driver was struck by multiple gunshots, and was pronounced dead at the scene. His cousin was shot in the leg and hobbled away to call for help.

Porter and two companions were identified as the shooters and were arrested in the weeks following the shooting. The two codefendants – Jaelen Bell, 22, and Christian Key, 20 – are awaiting separate trials.

The trial was handled by Asst. Dist. Attys. Steve Ragland and Jen Morris of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies & Narcotics Prosecution Unit which handles cases involving gang members and violent crimes, including homicides, aggravated robberies, kidnappings, rapes, and narcotics trafficking.


Credit: Shelby County Sheriff's Office
Jaelen Bell, Demerrick Porter, Christian Key

11/29/2018 - Three men have been indicted on second-degree murder charges in the March shooting death of a man who suspected them of stealing his car, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich said Thursday.

Defendants Jaelen Bell, 20, Demerrick Porter and Christian Key, both 18, also were indicted on charges of attempted second-degree murder and employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony.

All are in custody in the Shelby County Jail.

On March 28, 2018, police were called to the 4500 block of Cognac Cove in the Hickory Ridge area where they found 24-year-old Christopher Smith in the front seat of his car, dead from gunshot wounds.

His 23-year-old cousin was nearby, suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg.

Investigators said the cousins had suspected the three defendants of being involved in the theft of Smith’s vehicle and followed them for several blocks to obtain their license number. Police said the defendants stopped their vehicle, got out and began shooting at Smith and his cousin.

The case is being handled by Asst. Dist. Atty. Stephen Ragland of the DA’s Crime Strategies Prosecution Unit which incorporates and expands the work of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit, the Organized Crime Unit, Project Safe Neighborhood/Gundone, GunStat, the Safe Streets Task Force and the Violent Crime Unit.

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