A jury has found a Richmond man guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a friend four times in the back.

Jurors recommended late Wednesday that Devrick Raquan Gail, 31, receive a life sentence, plus three years, for the slaying in Richmond’s Mosby neighborhood.

Davon R. Daniels was shot in his apartment in the Oliver Crossing apartments off Coalter Street on Jan. 2, 2018, just after 11 a.m. He had just turned 30.

Prosecutors Christine Cestaro and Kirk Conway introduced evidence that Daniels was shot twice in the back before he fell — and twice more as the shooter stood directly over him. A Richmond police detective dug one bullet from the floor of the apartment Daniels shared with his girlfriend, and retrieved a second bullet from the apartment directly below.

The jury heard a 911 call from Daniels’ girlfriend, who was in a back bedroom when Daniels was shot, in which Cestaro contended that the victim named his killer as “Quan.” The name matches Gail’s nickname, a shortened form of his middle name.

Gail’s defense team, led by Christopher Bradshaw, noted a lack of established motive in the killing and said Gail and Daniels were best friends. Daniels’ girlfriend didn’t hear any argument or fighting before the gunshots, he said.

”In this particular case, motive is pretty important,” Bradshaw said.

A witness placed Gail in the apartment building at the time of shooting. The witness said he drove Gail there in a rental car that was registered in Gail’s name and was left at the scene.

In recorded phone calls from the Richmond City Justice Center, Gail called the witness a “rat” and other disparaging names.

“He told on me,” Gail was recorded saying.

A Richmond sheriff’s lieutenant identified the distinct, high-pitched voice as Gail’s — he used other inmates’ identification numbers to make some of the calls from the jail.

“He said he told. Not that he lied or made up some story,” prosecutor Conway said of Gail’s phone calls.

The murder weapon, a Glock .40-caliber gun, was never recovered. But four bullets and four empty cartridges cases all found at the scene matched the same gun. Forensic detectives also matched the gun to an unsolved Richmond homicide from June 2014.

Bradshaw said Gail couldn’t have committed that murder because he wasn’t in the state at the time. What the jury didn’t hear was that Gail was serving time in a federal prison in Pennsylvania at the time of the 2014 killing. While incarcerated that year, Gail penned a letter to a Richmond judge seeking mental health treatment and calling himself “a detrimental threat to society.”

Gail was released from federal prison on Dec. 1, 2017, just a month before Daniels’ death, after serving 70 months for possession of a firearm by a felon, according to federal court documents.

arockett@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6527

Twitter: @AliRockettRTD

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