A bereaved mother whose son was shot and killed nearly two years ago — and who spoke out against gun violence and memorialized shooting victims at the “Million Mom March” rally in Washington, D.C., last Mother’s Day — was herself convicted of shooting a man she wrongly believed was her son’s killer.
Barbara Graham, the Washington Post reported Thursday, “was found guilty in D.C. Superior Court … of trying to avenge her son’s death by shooting a young man” last year that “she blamed for the killing.”
Graham, who lost her own son in 1999 in a shooting death at a Martin Luther King, Jr. rally, became active in a Washington-area group, “Mothers on the Move Spiritually,” in the months following her son’s death. The group helped sponsor the MMM event, where Graham “spoke out … and helped memorialize the dead,” the paper said.
The Million Moms March, which becomes nine months old as an organization Feb. 14, has become one of the nation’s leading advocates of stringent gun control. The group, which promotes gun-control activism among the nation’s mothers, says it is “dedicated to preventing gun death and injury and supporting victims and survivors of gun trauma.”
Specifically, the organization promotes nationwide gun registration and wants to “close gun show loopholes.” Also, it supports a “one gun purchase a month” program, and “strict oversight of the gun industry,” among other measures.
Officials with the group, which has its main office in San Francisco General Hospital, did not return phone calls on Friday seeking comments about Graham’s involvement with the Mother’s Day speech or her conviction.
According to the Post, jurors last week returned guilty verdicts on nine counts against Graham, 49, for her Jan. 26, 2000, shooting of Kikko Smith, age 23. The shooting has left Smith paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for life.
Smith has spent most of the past year in a hospital, said the Post account.
Witnesses said Graham, who has three living children and who was distraught over the loss of her son and frustrated with police efforts to catch her son’s killer, went to Smith’s house with her son’s .45-cal. handgun and 30-year-old Erskine Moorer, the boyfriend of one of Graham’s daughters.
When they arrived at about 6 p.m., Graham twice asked Smith — who had been called outside by friends and was talking to them as they sat in their car — his name.
Prosecutors said Graham and Moorer then pulled out guns and began shooting at Smith as he ran from them. However, the Post said, Moorer’s attorney, Douglas Wood, told the jury that his client had left the neighborhood before the shooting.
“Asked who confronted him with a gun, Smith pointed emphatically to Graham, who sat still and somber. At another point, he pointed firmly at Moorer, saying Moorer joined the ambush as he ran from Graham,” the paper said.
Prosecutors said during the trial that Graham likely confused Smith with another young man with a similar-sounding name, and that Smith was not the one who shot her son in 1999.
“Prosecutors suggested that the grieving mother probably misunderstood Smith, thinking he said the name ‘Teacco,’ a young man she blamed — also mistakenly, prosecutors say — for her son’s slaying,” said the Post.
One bullet fired by Graham is still lodged in Smith’s spine. He told jurors during testimony that doctors say he will likely never walk again.
“From a mother to a mother, she knew better,” said Smith’s mother, Mary Ann Smith, after jurors reached their decision. “You can’t tell the kids to stop the violence with the mothers running around like this.”
Graham faces 15 years to life in prison for three of the most serious charges against her. She will be sentenced March 29, the paper said.
According to information published by MMM, in 1998 a total of 30,708 people were killed by guns in the U.S. Of those, 17,424 were gun suicides, 12,102 were gun homicides, 886 were unintentional or accidental shootings, and 316 were shooting deaths of undetermined intent, the group said.
Meanwhile, the Second Amendment Sisters, a pro-gun rights organization that also caters to women, says more gun laws and restrictions are “anti-self defense” and actually serve to put more women at risk of violence and injury.
Also, the SAS said federal crime statistics show that twice as many children die each year from non-gun homicide, and that eight times as many children die from non-gun violence, indicating that “the problem is violence, not guns.”