Escaped convict found guilty of barbershop slaying

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A man was convicted Wednesday of killing a barbershop customer, wounding the barber, and then injuring two officers during a shootout with police, all just days after escaping from prison.

Tamik Kirkland of Springfield, who turned 27 during his trial, was found guilty in Hampden Superior Court of first-degree murder and a variety of other charges for the shooting death of Sheldon Innocent, 24, of Wilbraham, a customer at Bill Brown’s House of Beauty in April 2011.

The murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole.

Authorities have said Innocent was not the intended target and Kirkland was gunning for the barber, Darryl King, who was seriously wounded.

Kirkland was then involved in a shootout with police and struck a city officer and a state trooper in the exchange of gunfire. The officers suffered minor injuries and credited their body armor with saving their lives. Kirkland was shot multiple times.

Kirkland, who was serving time on weapons convictions, escaped from the state’s minimum-security prison in Shirley five days before the shootings.

Authorities have said he wanted revenge for the nonfatal shooting of his mother, and King is the father of the man he thinks shot his mother. But prosecutors were not allowed to tell the jury about Kirkland’s prison escape or his mother’s shooting.

Defense lawyer Andrew Klyman said Kirkland had nothing to do with the barbershop shootings and tried to avoid police because he was wanted for his prison escape.

The escape led to an overhaul of security procedures at the prison.

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