Lativia Johnson's sister, mother & aunt huddled together after the conviction of Robert Gaines for the girl's 1993 murder.
Robert Lee Gaines II during the reading of his guilty verdict for the 1993 murder of Lativia Johnson.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Eighteen years to the day that eight-year-old Lativia Johnson was shot and killed in her own kitchen, her family says they are finally getting justice.
A jury Friday found Robert Lee Gaines II, 37, guilty of second-degree murder in the child's death.
Investigators say Lativia was not the target of the shooting. They believe Gaines and Bobby Brown were trying to seek revenge on someone who attacked Brown outside a party store.
Seconds after Friday's verdict was announced, Lativia's mother collapsed into her family's arms. She was so overcome with emotion, relatives had to help carry her out.
Although they would have preferred a conviction for first-degree murder, Lativia's family says they're happy with the verdict.
"I was there when it happened, and I'm so glad it's over," says Raynel Johnson, Lativia's aunt. "It is over! Thank you, Jesus!"
"As long as he's never coming home, we're satisfied with that," says Cent Johnson, a member of Lativia's family. "We feel justice. He'll never come home. We'll never want him coming home. Let him rot in prison."
"We're very happy for the family, to give them some closure to this," Grand Rapids Police Capt. Jeffrey Hertel. "We got the two individuals that were responsible for this happening so many years ago."
Gaines will return to the same courtroom on January 9 for sentencing.
Brown is already serving prison time for second-degree murder in this case. He took a plea deal to avoid a life sentence. As part of his plea, Brown testified against Gaines.
By Chris Zoladz