Trial Verdict: Father and Son Convicted in Shooting Death of Up-and-Coming Rapper

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – A federal jury has found Lavon Parks, 32, and his father, James C. Parks, 58, guilty on all counts in a narcotics conspiracy case related to the shooting death of musician Kevin O. Turner, 21, also known as a promising rapper in Buffalo. The charges include discharging a firearm causing death, which could result in at least a 10-year prison sentence and possibly life, among other narcotics and firearm charges.

Prosecutors alleged that Lavon Parks fired six shots, leading to Turner’s death on Jan. 21, 2018, in Niagara Falls. They claimed that Parks targeted Turner, a rival drug dealer, due to concerns over their drug territory and drug-related debts.

During the trial, jurors were shown video evidence of Lavon and James Parks driving around the neighborhood shortly before Turner’s killing. Additionally, the prosecution presented text messages sent by crack users, who sold heroin for Lavon Parks, notifying him of Turner’s presence. This evidence led prosecutors to assert that the shooting was a setup, orchestrated to allow Lavon Parks to find and harm Turner.

The indictment filed in 2019 also accused the father, son, and five other defendants of engaging in a conspiracy to sell cocaine in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo areas between May 2017 and March 2019.

The trial, which began on Nov. 22, 2022, involved 43 government witnesses and two defense witnesses. Neither Lavon nor James Parks testified. Prosecutors argued that the conspiracy involved cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico to various locations in Western New York and other states.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo raised concerns about the federal government’s discovery practices and disallowed some of the government’s evidence, including downloads from Lavon Parks’ iPhone. The trial was also postponed at least once due to concerns over evidence disclosure.

With the jury’s guilty verdict, Lavon and James Parks are set to be sentenced in June. This marks the end of a lengthy trial marred by tension between prosecutors and defense attorneys over evidence disclosure, providing closure to a case involving a tragic loss of life and drug-related criminal activity.