Tue. May 28th, 2024

A 27-year-old Nebraska man received a life sentence Monday for shooting and killing a Lincoln man in February 2021 in a failed attempt to rob him of 4 pounds of marijuana.

Deontae Rush, who was found guilty at trial of the first-degree murder of 33-year-old James Shekie, is expected to appeal.

Attorneys on both sides said little at first.

Rush’s attorney, Jeff Pickens of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, said the judge didn’t have any discretion on the murder charge. The only option was a life sentence. Which made his sentence on count two, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, seem moot.

District Judge Kevin McManaman ultimately gave Rush life, plus 25 to 35 years in prison.

“You have not to date taken responsibility for the crimes, and I’m taking into consideration the safety of the community,” the judge said.

First, Rush read a statement he wrote about facing challenges and one day reaching a summit.

“I’ll beat this out, and I’ll rule. This won’t rule me,” he said.

At trial in November, Rush took the stand and said he “had nothing to do with this,” referring to the early morning shooting in Lincoln on Feb. 23, 2021.

His co-defendants, Anna Feilen and her brother, Marques Moten, testified against him, telling jurors that they waited in the van as Rush kicked in the door at Shekie’s mobile home at Mark IV Estates near North 20th and Superior streets.

They heard three gunshots soon after, then Shekie’s screams, and drove off, picking up Rush soon after emptyhanded at a nearby FedEx when he called Moten.

Police found Shekie’s body March 1, 2021, after a neighbor called because Shekie’s door had been left open for three days.

He’d been dead for nearly a week.

On March 4, 2021, investigators arrested Moten and Feilen, who are set to enter pleas next month, for conspiracy to commit robbery after a search of her phone showed a Facebook Messenger conversation between them about a plan to rob Shekie.

Four days later, Rush was arrested in Chicago, where he’d fled.

In November, the jury rejected Rush’s defense that the pair were framing him for the murder.

Surveillance footage taken shortly before the shooting showed Feilen, Moten and a third person in a hoodie with the same build as Rush at a Lincoln apartment complex.

And records put Rush’s cellphone in Lincoln.

At trial, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Eric Miller hypothesized that Rush had been scared by Shekie after going in the trailer, fired a wild shot, then a second at a doorway before walking in and shooting Shekie on his bed with his back to the wall.

Three months earlier, Rush’s first trial for Shekie’s murder ended prematurely when a spate of COVID-19 infections led to a mistrial.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com