Ex-Nasa boss ‘executed’ black neighbour – with gunshots filmed on Ring doorbell
An ex-Nasa worker murdered a neighbour on his doorstep in what prosecutors have called "an execution".
Michael Hetle, 54, shot 24-year-old Javon Prather seven times in March 2020 which he told a court was an act of self defence.
But shocking Ring doorbell camera footage seen by the trial's jury in Fairfax, Virginia, showed the former police officer swinging open his door and immediately shooting unarmed Prather at point-blank range.
Hetle did not so much as warn his neighbour about opening fire on him and instead sent him rolling down his outside steps and continued to shoot as Prather was laying on the ground.
The killer then aimed at Prather’s wife who tried dragging his body away.
Hetle’s son told the court how his dad, who is white, often used a racist slur to refer to Prather, who was mixed race.
Hetle denied Prather’s wife's claims that the shooting was partly motivated by racial animus, the Independent reports.
Prosecutor Lyle Burnham said: "He didn’t want Javon hurt. He didn’t want Javon to leave. He wanted Javon dead."
The jury returned its guilty verdict after nearly eight hours.
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Hetle will not be sentenced until January, when it is possible he could be handed life in prison.
Prather had served as an infantryman for about four years in the Maryland national guard and worked in a food shop.
During his time in the police, Hetle was disciplined for racial bias during a traffic stop, and killed two people while on duty.
His former police department on the West coast determined both killings were justified.
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A row between the neighbours first broke out in 2017 when according to Hetle, Prather used his hose to wash his car after being told not to.
Prather’s mum Shavon told NBC Washington that her son's murderer had repeatedly complained about him to the local homeowners’ association.
In court, Hetle alleged he had experienced threatening behaviour from Prather and his wife, Janelle, including a time in December 2019 when he claims Prather approached stared at him as he walked his dogs, nearly tripped over one of them and dropped a knife before running away.
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Janelle Prather had previously been charged with throwing objects at Hetle’s house and car, leading him get a restraining order out against her.
The homeowners’ association also sued her over the condition of her house.
Hetle told the court that Prather banged on his door so violently that he was scared he would force his way in.
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