Landon Hank Black, 25, was convicted of shooting and murdering Brandon Lee, 30, beginning Dec. 27, 2020.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to clarify that the shooting occurred in a parking lot adjacent to Billiards and Brews.
Landon Hank Black, the man charged with shooting and killing 30-year-old Brandon Lee in a parking lot next to a bar in west Knoxville in late December 2020, has been convicted of second-degree murder.
A jury deliberated until late Friday night and came out with a verdict around 10 p.m
Black was found guilty of a lesser offense after the state originally sought a first degree conviction. Black is scheduled to face Judge Steve Sword on December 13.
In court last week, there was no doubt that Black killed Lee around 2:20 a.m. on December 27 in a parking lot next to Billiards and Brews.
Veteran Knox County Prosecutor Kevin Allen told a Knox County Criminal Court jury Tuesday that they would see and hear for themselves why Black pulled the trigger.
It was because he left when he saw Lee blatantly flirting with his cousin’s ex-girlfriend at Billiards & Brews and because another man confronted Black after Black put that same drunk woman in his hands right before leaving the bar. , said Allen .
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Defense attorney Chloe Akers told jurors, however, that the state’s theory was all wrong. Black, sitting in his cousin’s borrowed Ford with a gun to hand, shot Lee once in the heart after Lee suddenly threatened him after they both left the bar at almost the same time, she said. It was just self-defense, Akers said.
Black, a few days before his 25th birthday, and Lee, 30, were strangers to each other until that evening.
Black had shown up at Billiards & Brews, which had repeatedly had trouble with the city of Knoxville for failing to respect a COVID-19-imposed curfew, with cousin Taylor Hodge and Hodge’s date.
Born in Iowa, Lee worked as a machinist and had just bought a house in Fountain City, according to Allen. He had gone to Billiards & Brews with his roommate and two other people.
During an opening statement lasting more than 90 minutes, Allen told the judges that that evening, starting December 26 at 10 p.m., they would hear several people going to the bar.
But he told them they’d also be watching a lot of security videos — from three cameras in Billiards & Brews and two cameras in the parking lot outside the Unicorn Drive business.
The video, Allen said, would show Black becoming agitated and confrontational as a result of his cousin’s former girlfriend showing up and flirting with Lee.
As the night came to a close at about 2:15 a.m. on December 27, he was triggered by a bar-goer who insulted him when he confronted the drunken ex-girlfriend.
When the abusive bar patron was shown the door, Black walked out another exit to his cousin’s car, drove back to the Billiards & Brews parking lot, and as he rounded a line of cars, suddenly ran into Lee in his headlights. .
Lee was walking to his nearby truck, the prosecutor said, when he was suddenly forced to stand in front of the car. He cursed and looked at Black, who was sitting in the driver’s seat, raising a hand and letting go, Allen said.
In a split second, Black fired one shot that struck Lee in the heart, causing him to drop dead.
Black then tried to get Hodge to ride in the car with him, and when Hodge refused, he drove off. The next day, Hodge told authorities, Black admitted to shooting Lee in the parking lot and recognizing him from their time at the bar, Allen said.
Within days he was on his way to California, where he remained until about a month later American marshals took him into custody in Los Angeles and charged him with murder in Knoxville.
Akers, part of attorney Don Bosch’s legal team, told jurors that the state had skipped some details and exaggerated or mischaracterized other moments of that night at Billiards & Brews.
Lee, she said, confronted Black after drinking all night and taking only cocaine. Lee, she said, had a gun in his hand as he faced Black in the parking lot.
Black reacted after seeing the weapon in his face as a way to protect his own life, she said.
Akers said police conducted a sloppy and “rushed” investigation that lacked key details.
In this trial, Akers told the jurors, “The state of Tennessee got this wrong, all wrong.”