Jury recommends life sentence for man who fatally shot Marine, wounded wife
By MORGAN EADS | Lexington Herald-Leader | Published: November 1, 2019
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Tribune News Service) — A jury recommended a life sentence without parole Wednesday for the man convicted on multiple charges in the fatal 2014 shooting of a Marine outside Austin City Saloon.
Dawan Mulazim, 36, was convicted Monday night of intentional murder, first-degree robbery and second-degree assault in the shooting death of Jonathan Price and the wounding of his wife, Megan Price. However, on each of the counts, the jury could not determine if Mulazim was the “principal” offender or complicit.
He was also found guilty of complicity to first-degree robbery in connection with the attack on the Prices.
On the murder conviction, jurors could have chosen to give Mulazim the death penalty, between 20 and 50 years in prison, or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years or 25 years.
The jury handed down decades-long sentences in the three other charges, but those sentences will run concurrently with the life sentence.
Jurors deliberated the sentence for about three hours after two days of hearing from witnesses and attorneys. After six days of evidence and arguments, those jurors deliberated about four and a half hours before they found him guilty.
In connection to a July 17, 2014, robbery on Second Street, Mulazim was found guilty of two counts of receiving stolen property valued less than $500.
This is not the first time Mulazim has been tried in connection with the robbery of the Prices. In 2018, a jury could not reach a verdict in the murder and robbery charges in the Austin City Saloon shooting. In that trial, Mulazim was convicted in a different robbery and sentenced to 60 years in prison. His co-defendant and nephew, Quincinio Canada, was acquitted of all charges in the attack on the Prices during the 2018 trial.
During the sentencing phase this week, jurors heard testimony from the mothers of Mulazim and Price. Both mothers, Debbie Price and Dawn Mulazim, talked about how much they love their sons.
Debbie Price described Jonathan, her only son, as being “soft-hearted, but tough as nails.” She said she relives what happened every day. She told jurors that she struggles with the fact her son will never get to be a father and she’ll never get to be a grandmother.
“He will always be my baby who grew into a great man,” Debbie Price said. “He will always be my favorite Marine.”
Jonathan Price was always caring, sweet and kind, Debbie Price said. He is remembered by many for his smile and hugs, she said.
Debbie Price said there had been a “Jonathan-sized hole” in her heart since her son’s death. She cries in the grocery store and at small everyday things that remind her of Jonathan Price.
Megan Price also testified, telling jurors that Jonathan’s death left her lost and broken.
She still feels physical pain, too, from the gunshot wound she suffered to her leg during the robbery in the early morning hours of June 21, 2014. She said she is in constant fear of something happening again and does not like being in crowds.
Jonathan and Megan Price were celebrating her birthday on the night of the robbery. After the attack, she said she can no longer celebrate her birthday like she used to.
The two were saving up money to buy a house and were talking about starting a family when Jonathan died, Megan Price said.
Debbie Price talked about the legacy Jonathan Price has left behind, including multiple awards and events that have been named in his honor.
The defense also called several people, including Mulazim’s friends and family, to testify in the sentencing phase. Defense experts testified about factors that could have contributed to Mulazim’s behavior. His family told jurors about how important Mulazim is to them.
Dawn Mulazim, his mother, worked multiple jobs and raised three kids alone for some of Dawan’s childhood, she said Tuesday. She also said that Dawan Mulazim was one of the only boys in a big family of women.
Mulazim has always been compassionate, helpful and a comedian, Dawn Mulazim said.
“That is my baby,” Dawn Mulazim said. “He means everything to me.”
Dawan Mulazim often calls his family from jail, and tends to devote the conversations to asking about how his family is doing and making sure his nephew and nieces are doing well in school, his family members testified.
One of Mulazim’s nieces, Dawniyah Mulazim, told jurors that Mulazim is her best friend, and that she goes to him first for everything.
In an emotional moment in the courtroom, Dawniyah Mulazim broke down crying on the stand.
“If we lose him, I’m not going to have anyone to talk to,” she said.
Mulazim who was silent for most of the trial spoke up then, saying, “I’m always going to be there. Always.”
During closing arguments for the sentencing phase, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Kathryn Webster argued that Mulazim’s prior robbery and wanton endangerment convictions show what he does when given second chances.
She pointed to multiple instances where he was accused of shooting guns at homes or people.
“If it weren’t for the fact he had bad aim, we would’ve been here a long time ago,” Webster said.
Mulazim’s violent behavior has escalated, Webster argued.
“He did this to himself,” Webster said. “And when you see his family crying, he did this to them, too.”
After the sentencing recommendation was announced, first assistant commonwealth’s attorney Kimberly Baird said that the Price family was happy with the decision. It was a long trial with a lot of hard work reliving painful memories, she said.
“Nothing can replace that day, nothing can change that,” Baird said. “But hopefully this will help them heal, knowing that they have imposed this verdict.”
During the defense’s closing arguments, attorney Kim Green pointed out that no one in the courtroom had asked the jury to choose the death penalty, even though it was an option.
She asked the jurors to show compassion and mercy in their sentencing recommendations and to consider that the sentence will affect Mulazim’s whole family.
“Each and every one of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done,” Green said.
Mulazim will be sentenced on Dec. 20.
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