After days of waiting, the family of Gelnirys Ortega found out Monday that at least one of the men accused of killing the 13-year-old in a botched home invasion will spend his life in prison.
A Wake jury, after spending more than three full days deliberating, convicted suspected shooter Rashaan Ali of first-degree murder and Ian Wattley of involuntary manslaughter late Monday afternoon.
Gelnirys, a seventh-grader at West Millbrook Middle School, died when she was shot in the right eye on May 1, 2007, while she sat on the couch in the Green Road apartment she shared with her mother and several others. Prosecutors contend she was an innocent victim in the wrong place when a group of men rushed into the apartment looking to collect $60,000 that a man staying in the apartment owed for drugs.
Milagros Ortega, Gelnirys' mother, declined to talk after the verdicts came down.
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But she pumped her fist in gratitude when she heard Ali's conviction. She then began to weep when Wattley's involuntary manslaughter verdict was read aloud by a court clerk.
All three -- Ortega, Ali and Wattley, will be back in a Wake courtroom Nov. 20, when visiting Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour sentences Ali and Wattley, both of whom have been in jail for more than a year awaiting trial.
There's no question about what punishment Ali will face -- his first-degree murder conviction means he'll spend his life in prison without a chance of parole.
Wattley's guilty verdict for involuntary manslaughter means he'll likely face 16 months in prison, with credit given for more than a year he's already been in jail.
His defense attorney argued that Wattley hadn't known about the planned robbery that night but just accompanied a friend of his to Ortega's apartment. If jurors had convicted him of the first-degree murder charge prosecutors had asked for, Wattley also would have faced a life sentence.
Several other men faced charges in connection with Gelnirys' killing. So far, Wilson Roldao and Shawn Taylor, both thought to be accessories who helped other suspects flee the state, have agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges.