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Trial Under Way for Accused Shooter of Spelman Student

ATLANTA – A Spelman College student who was killed by a stray bullet as she walked with friends on a neighboring college campus was trying to break up the fight that led to her death, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Testimony began in the first day of the trial of Devonni Benton, 21, who police say killed 19-year-old Jasmine Lynn by firing a pistol at least six times into a crowd outside a Clark Atlanta University dorm in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, 2009.

“Jasmine was out there trying to tell these people to stop,” Fulton County assistant district attorney Eleanor Ross told the jury. “She said, ‘No, stop. This is ridiculous.’”

But Benton’s lawyer, Jackie Patterson, says his client was involved in the fight but was not carrying a gun that night. Benton’s lawyer says another man has since confessed to friends that he was the shooter.

“They got the wrong man,” Patterson told the jury. “He didn’t shoot anybody. And the real killer will come into court and say he didn’t do it.”

A Clark Atlanta student, Jarvis Jones, also was shot as he stood on the steps of his dorm, but he was not injured critically.

Lynn’s mother, father and grandmother sat in the courtroom, crying as they listened to testimony about the chaotic scene after the shooting. Her parents, Constance Franklin and Clint Lynn, of Kansas City, Mo., are suing Clark Atlanta University, claiming the university did not take the necessary security measures on campus to protect their daughter from being shot.

Benton is not a student at any of the colleges in the historically Black Atlanta University Center, which includes Spelman, Clark Atlanta and Morehouse University. Police say some of the people in the fight that led to the shooting were visitors to campus, while others were students.

Students commonly cross among the three colleges to visit each other and can take courses on each other’s campuses, but the Clark Atlanta campus is more open than Spelman or Morehouse, which are gated.

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