24-year-old gets life in prison for ambush killing of his cousin on Birmingham street

A 24-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison in the 2020 ambush slaying of his cousin on a Birmingham roadway.

Charza Jamal Knight was initially charged with capital murder in the April 13, 2020, slaying of Cordai Deone Molette. A Jefferson County jury in May found Knight guilty of the lesser charge of felony murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Streety handed down Knight’s sentencing on Wednesday.

The case was prosecuted by deputy district attorneys Charissa Hendrix, Eric Hamilton, and Blake Owens. Knight was represented by the Jefferson County Public Defender Office.

Hendrix said the case was prosecuted using legal concepts from urban gun battle prosecutions from other jurisdictions. “The city streets are running with blood, and in this case, the victim was killed by blood, his own cousin,’’ Hendrix said during sentencing. “It was a tragedy on all sides.”

It was just after 4:30 p.m. that Monday when officers from the South Precinct responded to a shot-spotter call of multiple rounds fired in the area of the 200 block of 48th St. North. Upon arrival, officers found 23-year-old Molette unresponsive inside of a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. Birmingham Fire and Rescue responded to the scene and pronounced the victim dead.

Authorities said Molette was traveling westbound on Airport Highway and turned onto 48th Street North when gunfire erupted. The victim’s vehicle came to a rest after striking the exterior wall of a nearby business.
Knight fled in a white Chevy Impala with tinted windows. He was arrested within a week. Knight contended that Molette had shot him the month before Molette was killed, according to court records.
Hendrix said Knight waited for the victim, who was driving, to come down the roadway. Knight then fired 19 shots at Molette’s car, causing Molette’s passenger to return gunfire at Knight, which caused the death of Molette.

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