A Columbia man was convicted Wednesday in Lancaster County Court of attempted murder of a local police officer.
A local jury found 18-year-old Marquell Rentas guilty of counts of: attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer, conspiracy, assault of a law-enforcement officer and reckless endangerment.
Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson argued that Rentas fired, from a high-powered rifle, at three police officers on July 29, 2016, in the area of 103 Bethel Street.
The jury returned not-guilty verdicts regarding two other officers who testified that they felt they were fired upon.
The jury deliberated for six hours over two days before deciding the case Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.
“Police officers are on the front lines defending everything and everyone we value in society, and crimes like this remind us just how dangerous their jobs can be and how much we owe them for their service,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said after the verdict. “We are extremely fortunate we did not lose one or more officers that night.
“The fact he missed does not diminish his malevolent intent to kill by cowardly means and his anti-police mindset.”
Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker, who presided over the case, will order sentence after a background check is completed in a couple months.
The assault of a law-enforcement officer charge carries a mandatory 20-year prison sentence.
“All law-abiding citizens should be outraged by Mr. Rentas’ crimes, and he will face the consequences of his actions at sentencing,” Stedman said.
Rentas is at Lancaster County Prison on $2 million cash bail.
In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Anderson told jurors Rentas admitted to firing at police as he was arrested, in fact, proclaiming, “I was shooting at you.”
Later, Rentas told a detective, “I hate (expletive) cops,” Anderson told the jury.
“Why would (Rentas) say that?” Anderson asked the jurors rhetorically. “If it were not true?”
Columbia police Detective Matthew Leddy filed charges.
Charges also were filed against 18-year-old Trenton Nace, who was with Rentas in the upstairs room as the shooting happened.
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