The man accused of killing two women and two children over drugs has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Darrell Lynn Bellard was convicted Thursday of killing 38-year-old Dawn Yvette Brooks; her children 3-year-old Shayla Shante Sikyala and 4-year-old Shakur Sylvester Sikyala; and their aunt, 41-year-old Mwasiti Sikyala.
"As a prosecutor now handling homicides for 12 years, it's not often you see children executed," prosectuor Wes Adams said. "Mr. Bellard is a person who really without any emotion decided to take the life of a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. As you heard in the confession yesterday, they weren't going to talk. They couldn't do anything. It was a cowardly move beyond all measure."
The family was found dead inside a trash-filled apartment above a garage in Riverdale, Md., in 2010.
After a day of deliberations, the jury of 12 convicted Bellard on 11 of the 12 charges against him.
"There were many days where there were tears throughout this jury box, so we could see the very emotional response," said Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks. "They connected with the family, and... seeing these children, pictures of dead children is something I think none of us ever forget."
Bellard was found guilty on all four counts of first-degree murder; four counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, and three counts of conspiracy to commit murder. He was found not guilty on one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
Bellard's girlfriend, T'Keisha Gilmer, had previously pleaded guilty in the case and, in exchange for a lighter sentence, testified as the prosecution’s star witness, saying Bellard brought 60 pounds of marijuana from Texas to sell in the D.C. area.
When the pot disappeared from Brooks' home, Sikyala told Bellard three masked men ransacked the house and took the marijuana while Bellard was out with Gilmer, Brooks and the children.
Believing Sikyala and Brooks were involved, Bellard interrogated them. When they couldn't tell him where the marijuana was, Bellard executed them. Gilmer testified she blocked the door as Bellard shot and killed Brooks and her children.
In Wednesday's closing arguments, one of Bellard's defense lawyers told the jury missing physical evidence proves reasonable doubt that Bellard committed the murders, but the prosecutor said, "In an effort to conceal these murders, he cleaned up and threw away the gun."
Bellard could have faced the death penalty, but the law was abolished last year. Alsobrooks said life in prison without parole would be a just sentence.