Man found not guilty of murder in Grassfield High student’s death

Andarion McInnis appears in court during his jury trial on Aug. 8, 2017. (WAVY Photo)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A man has been found not guilty of murder in the death of Grassfield High School student Bryant Cueto.

Bryant Cueto (Courtesy: Oman Funeral Home)

After deliberating for 40 minutes, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty for Andarion McInnis.

McInnis was, however, found guilty of robbery, firearms charges and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Cueto, 18, was shot and killed on May 1, 2016 in the parking lot of an Applebee’s restaurant on General Booth Boulevard.

In court Wednesday, prosecutors called Ryan Umstot, Cueto’s friend, to testify.

Umstot told the court that Cueto wanted to go to General Booth to pick up some money. He said they then pulled into the parking lot at the Applebee’s. Bryant reportedly got out of the vehicle and met some other people. When he got back into the car, Umstot said Cueto had a giant bag of Xanax in his pocket.

Several minutes later, McInnis and Jaquan Wilson walked up to the car.  Prosecutors say Cueto was texting Wilson and agreed to sell him pills for $350.  Umstot said Wilson got in the back seat and McInnis stood leaning in the drivers side window.  At some point, Umstot said McInnis said, “Pop him,” and that’s when Wilson allegedly fired.

Umstot went on to tell the court that Wilson then grabbed the bag of Xanax before running away with McInnis.  Forensics technicians say McInnis’ hand prints were found on the driver’s side door.

Defense attorneys argued that Umstot’s testimony was not credible. Umstot admitted on the stand Wednesday that he lied to police the night Cueto was shot.  He told police Cueto lived in Virginia Beach and not Chesapeake and he didn’t tell them Cueto had gotten a bag of Xanax before setting up the drug deal.

Umstot also told investigators that McInnis never said anything when he was standing next to the car. The next day, Umstot told police he remembered McInnis said, “Pop him.”

The defense attorney told the jury that this isn’t a case of science. This is a case about telling the truth.  Prosecutors said they know that it wasn’t McInnis who shot Cueto, but they believe since he and Wilson planned the robbery, he is just as responsible for the murder.

10 On Your Side’s Jason Marks spoke with Umstot outside court Wednesday.

“It kind of rips my heart out of my chest,” he said after the jury decided. “My best friend was taken from me and I’m here and what do we have to show for that? I don’t get him back. Nothing is going to get him back. Guilty verdict or not guilty verdict, we are not going to get him back.”

McInnis’ attorney, Steve Mirman, said he was “pleased with the jury’s decision on the murder charge.

“We just have to remember there are no winners in this case. A young man lost his life and Andarion is facing quite a long time in the penitentiary. For that reason I’m sad, but I’m happy the murder charge went away today,” Mirman said.

Sentencing for McInnis is set to begin Thursday morning. He faces a minimum of 14 years in prison and a maximum of life plus 18 years.

McInnis was arrested along with 18-year-old Jacquan Wilson. Wilson is still waiting for his trial to begin.