Jury finds man guilty in drive-by shooting death of 4-year-old boy

Quentin Phillips could face maximum punishment of life in prison in connection with the slaying of De’Earlvion Whitley in 2017

Quentin Phillips (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A jury on Friday found a man guilty in a drive-by shooting that claimed the life of a 4-year-old boy in July 2017.

Jurors deliberated for 1 1/2 hours before deciding on a verdict in the murder trial of Quentin Phillips.

The trial in the 437th District Court now goes in the punishment phase on Tuesday. Phillips could face a maximum punishment of up to life in prison.

The Trial

An FBI special agent testified about the agency’s surveillance footage that was shown on the first day of trial. The agent said the video showed several men — including Phillips — handling two weapons before getting into a Chevy Malibu. The prosecution said it was at this point that the men went to commit the drive-by shooting.

According to trial testimony, gunmen fired 65 shots into the family’s home, killing De’Earlvion Whitley, who was playing video games. His mother was also injured.

A fellow gang member also testified in the trial.

Shackled and escorted by federal agents, Charles Bethany told the jury that Philips admitting to the shooting. Bethany described Phillips as the “leader” among the men who committed the crime and that the others would listen to whatever he said.

Bethany, who is awaiting sentencing on federal charges unrelated to the case, was asked why he would testify against Phillips if he wasn’t promised any deals.

“Somebody has got to be accountable for that,” Bethany said.

In closing arguments Friday, the defense tried to discredit Bethany’s testimony, saying he was a snitch and lied. They even went as far as saying that Bethany was probably the person who committed the crime.

The state countered saying they had video showing where Bethany was at the time of the shooting.

De’Earlvion Whitley

Phillips rejected a 40-year plea deal offered by the District Attorney’s Office and took his chances with a jury trial.

Although the shooting was linked to gang violence amid a turf war, no one was charged with De’Earlvion’s death until 2020.

Bexar County DA Joe Gonzales issued the following statement:

“Gang violence doesn’t just impact people in the gang. The murder of De-Earlvion Whitley, an innocent child, shows the devastating consequences of street gang violence and the importance of ensuring the safety and security of our communities. Our commitment is to work to prevent such tragedies, hold offenders accountable and provide an environment where every child can grow up without fear.”

Other suspects in the case

Phillips is one of three suspects charged in the case.

The defendant, along with Terrell Chase and John Chatmon, have been charged with murder and felon in possession of a firearm.

Two other men had previously been charged in the case, but they have since had their murder charges dismissed.

Chase was found guilty in the case involving the felon in possession of a firearm charge and sentenced to life in prison earlier this year. That sentence is currently being appealed.

About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.