NEW ALBANY — A jury deliberated for nearly five hours before finding a New Albany teen guilty of attempted murder for stabbing his friend in February.
Braidan Coy was just 17 when he was arrested and charged with two felonies — level 1 attempted murder and level 3 aggravated battery — in the stabbing of his friend, John Wheeler, 18 at the time, while both sat in the victim's truck the night of Feb. 27.
Just after 8 tonight, the jury returned the verdicts — guilty on both counts. Coy, now 18, could face up to 40 years in prison for the attempted murder and up to 16 for the aggravated battery; however, the sentences will run concurrent.
"We're very thankful for the hard work of the jury and for listening to the evidence; we think the jury got the right result," Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Chris Lane said.
Defense attorney William Gray said that Coy intends to appeal, adding that the circumstances made this a tough case.
"It's hard to take something like this," Gray said. "He's just been convicted of trying to kill his best friend, it's hard."
During the trial, which started on Tuesday, Wheeler testified that he woke up around 10 p.m. that night feeling something warm and realized he was bleeding heavily. He said Coy was next to him in the truck and told him "I don't know what to do," before leaving.
Wheeler called 911, and a New Albany police officer first at the scene has been credited with likely saving the teen's life by his quick actions, though the injury did cause a stroke, nerve damage and partial paralysis.
Coy testified in his own defense, saying that he awakened to find Wheeler with a knife to his neck, and that he remembers disarming Wheeler, but could not recall what came next.
During closing statements Thursday in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1, prosecutor Lane told the jury that evidence at the scene could tell a story, even if Coy could not.
"The defendant may have blacked out, but the evidence did not black out," he said. "The evidence keeps talking."
Attorney Gray told the jury during his closing that "only if you believe that this kid stabbed his best friend in the neck and ran off can you find him guilty. You've got to make sense of something that doesn't make sense."
The jurors appeared solemn as they returned to the courtroom to deliver the verdict, at least one crying.
"It's incredibly difficult," Lane said. "Your victim is young and the perpetrator of this violent act is young. The victim is going to struggle with this physically for the rest of his life and now this person will likely be spending many years incarcerated."
Wheeler, who attended the trial and the verdict, said he has struggled physically and emotionally with what happened that night.
"It's very traumatizing, a lot of flashbacks from that night, a lot of therapy," he said, adding that it's good to be able to have closure.
"I'm happy to see that the justice system prevailed and that he gets what he deserves," Wheeler said. "It sucks to see a guy who was my friend have something like this happen, but you kind of can't change it."
A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 14 in Floyd County.