Quentin Wyche said he acted in self-defense when he was attacked by a group of football players. His attorney chose not to pursue a “stand your ground” defense for Wyche in the killing of a star football player at FIU in 2010.

Community welcomes home native son

One day in March 2010, two rising stars crashed hard to earth.

“But, young men, regardless of education, act impulsively and irrationally at times, fueled by bravado and a misplaced sense of manhood. So it was here. The Berry family has buried their son far too soon, and the Wyche family has lost theirs for far too long. A tragedy — in every sense of the word,” wrote the judge who presided over the criminal case that resulted from that crash to earth.

It happened in Miami. Kendall Berry, a star running back for Florida International University and 22 years old, was dead. One half of a pair of scissors hit a main artery, penetrating 1.2 centimeters deep.

A fellow FIU student, Quentin Wyche, a DeLand native and also 22 at the time, was arrested and charged in Berry’s murder.

This is the story of Wyche’s journey — the altercation that led to his arrest, his conviction and jail time, and now, his efforts to clear his name.

We don’t know how this ends. Quentin doesn’t know, either.

We invite you to come along for the story.

What happened?

On Aug. 4, members of the Spring Hill community gathered to welcome home Quentin Wyche, now 31.

Wyche, a member of the DeLand High School Class of 2006, was convicted in 2013 of second-degree murder in Kendall Berry’s death.

Berry and Wyche were both full-time students at FIU in 2010, when an altercation between Berry’s girlfriend and Wyche early in the day March 25 led to a brawl that night.

Berry and fellow FIU football-team members confronted Wyche outside a recreation center after an intramural basketball game.

Wyche fled to the entrance of the rec center, where his backpack was lying on the floor. He was followed by members of the group, and the scene turned chaotic.

Afraid for his life, Wyche dug a pair of scissors out of his backpack.

In the aftermath, Berry lay dead or dying of a single stab wound.

Wyche was convicted of second-degree murder after a four-day trial in Miami-Dade County. He was sentenced to 20.5 years in prison, with five years’ probation to follow.

Wyche and his mother, Wendy, have always maintained his innocence. They contend that Berry’s death was the result of self-defense and, thus, that the “stand your ground” law is applicable.

Wyche’s lawyer during the trial made an argument for self-defense, but did not call Wyche as a witness, in effect abandoning “stand your ground” as a defense.

“Stand your ground” hinges on the state of mind of the defendant and often requires the defendant to testify.

Since his 2013 sentencing, Wyche, with the help of his mother, has continually contested the conviction and events during the trial. Unable to continue to pay a private attorney, Wyche has undertaken a self-taught crash course in law to aid in his defense.

In late 2016, Wyche successfully moved to mitigate his sentence to 11 years.

He was released July 30, 2019, two years early for good behavior. He had served 5.5 years in prison, and had 3.5 years credit for more than a year of jail time after his initial arrest and subsequent house arrest.

Five days after he was released was the welcome-home party at Spring Hill Park.

Pastor Troy Bradley of Greater Union First Baptist Church and Althea Chavers of the Volusia/Flagler Boys & Girls Club, among others, were in attendance.

Wyche’s effort to have his sentence vacated continues. Along with his family and friends, The Beacon plans to follow along.

“We want justice, and we love Quentin,” Pastor Bradley said.

This is the beginning of a series. Watch for updates as Wyche’s case winds through the courts, and a young man seeks to clear his name.